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Little: Crisis standards of care may be coming

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | December 11, 2020 1:08 AM

Gov. Brad Little said Thursday that should COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Idaho, his administration will have little choice but to enact crisis standards of care for hospitals throughout the state.

“If your son or daughter gets in a car accident a hospital may not be available for your child, or your child may have to receive care in a re-purposed conference room," Little said during a press conference.

But for now? No real changes from state government.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations statewide have reached unprecedented heights over the fall. A total of 24,535 residents have been hospitalized since Sept. 13 because of the pandemic that has so far claimed 1,103 Idaho lives, which is .06% of the state's population.

The number of COVID cases has nearly doubled since Nov. 1, reaching 116,203. Little said one of the dangers the state faces in the battle against COVID is the proliferation of the myths that the disease is a product of greed-backed conspiracies or whether the virus is even real.

“Regardless of how much you call into question the recovery rates, the death rate, how many cases and deaths are counted and other topics, the situation in our hospitals right now is not up for debate," Little said. "The hospitals are not fudging the numbers. They have absolutely no incentive to make our current situation seem worse than it is.”

Crisis standards of care — technically implemented by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare — would enable hospitals and other health care facilities to bypass certain protocols and restrictions in order to save lives. These measures include possible field hospitals, the suspension of rules dictating which tools can be used in particular procedures, and how patients are treated and released.

Idaho has been one of a handful of states to maintain a strong economy during the pandemic, but Little has faced scrutiny from residents who have noted the state’s increasing coronavirus cases as reason to implement additional restrictions.

On Thursday, Little stayed the course, saying he would not impose additional restrictions but would consider them in the future.

“I’ve got counties that have got mask orders — local — by the people they know right there, and there’s no compliance,” Little said. “I’m trying to help the messaging, whether it be a school district, whether it be a county, whether it be a health district, to get that compliance we need … and every state around us is having the same problem.”

Little said potential future restrictions over Idahoans pale compared to the constraints the virus will impose on the state’s health care system if the virus continues to run unchecked.

“We remain at a dangerous precipice,” Little said. “If we cannot collectively or individually do a better job to slow the spread of this virus, this situation will affect you personally, whether you get COVID or not.”