'We have lost control': Idaho healthcare systems concerned about COVID-19 surge

COVID-19 Vaccine Vials
Posted at 3:24 PM, Jul 22, 2021

IDAHO — Healthcare leaders from St. Luke's, Saint Alphonsus and Primary Health held a virtual press conference Thursday and the message was clear: another surge is here.

Doctors said they have seen double the number of COVID-19 patients in just two weeks. Officials predicted a surge because of the Fourth of July, but this is on top of what was expected.

Nearly all new cases are in those who are unvaccinated but there are a few breakthrough cases. Healthcare leaders are also concerned about hospital capacity in the coming weeks as the surge of cases continues and hospitalizations are required. This as non-covid related hospitalizations are up, putting even more of a strain on health care workers.

Related: 'Neither side in that debate is correct': Are vaccine mandates unconstitutional?

Officials also talked about their decision for vaccine requirements for employees. They said despite protests outside, inside their institutions it's business as usual. Any concern has been about chronic health conditions and the vaccine that is most appropriate for them.

"In terms of Saint Alphonsus' experience, today none of our patients in the intensive care unit are vaccinated. They are all unvaccinated, and the patients that are at risk of losing their lives, it's because they are not vaccinated," said Dr. Steven Nemerson, chief clinical officer for Saint Alphonsus Health System.

Primary Health is seeing the highest positivity rate in tests since May.

According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's COVID-19 Vaccine dashboard, 49% of Idahoans ages 12 and up have at least one dose of the vaccine. That number is below the CDC and NIH's recommendation of 70% of communities with at least one dose to help prevent community spread.

Primary Health said in the past week positive tests for people ages 12 to 18 went up 30% and for those ages 18 to 40 it doubled.

Doctors from all three healthcare systems had one plea — for people to get vaccinated.

"This is not about politics, vaccination prevents hospitalization and death, period," said Nemerson.