Idaho deploys National Guard troops at hospitals in ‘last-ditch effort’ to avoid statewide Covid emergency

Idaho Governor Brad Little has activated National Guard soldiers to support staff at hospitals swamped by Covid-19 patients, warning that facilities with dwindling intensive care beds may soon have to turn away the infected.

“We are dangerously close to activating statewide crisis standards of care – a historic step that means Idahoans in need of healthcare could receive a lesser standard of care or may be turned away altogether,” the Republican governor said on Tuesday in a statement announcing the new Guard deployment, adding: “On a daily call with hospitals this morning, we heard there are only FOUR adult ICU beds available in the entire state.”

This affects all of us, not just patients with Covid-19.

While Idaho just wound down an earlier National Guard mission last month – which involved some 300 personnel on a Covid task force that helped to distribute protective gear and assist hospitals – the new deployment will see up to 150 Guard troops “support short-staffed medical facilities,” including with “logistical support such as screenings, lab work, and other duties.”

A 20-member Pentagon response team will also be sent to northern Idaho, where officials say vaccination rates are among the lowest in the state, while another 200 medical personnel will be made available as needed across Idaho.

“Idaho hospitals are beyond constrained. Our healthcare system is designed to deal with the everyday realities of life. Our healthcare system is NOT designed to withstand the prolonged strain caused by an unrestrained global pandemic,” Little went on. “It is simply not sustainable.”

The state government noted that “nearly all” of Idaho’s hospitals are “overwhelmed,” saying there are more patients in intensive care than ever before and “the vast majority of them are unvaccinated.” Citing the increasingly crowded ICUs, Governor Little pleaded for state residents to get vaccinated.

Please choose to receive the vaccine now to support your fellow Idahoans who need you.

Around 39% of Idaho’s 1.8 million residents have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, while 44% have received one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the state saw a lull in new infections following a major spike last winter, it has experienced an uptick since July, reporting a steady increase in cases and hospitalizations.

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FILE PHOTO: Army National Guard troops wheel an elderly resident as she arrives at a mass vaccination site in White Plains, New York.
‘Delta has changed everything’: Oregon governor to deploy 1,500 National Guard troops to assist swamped hospitals

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