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Crisis standards of care continue

Staff Writer | November 19, 2021 1:09 AM

The Idaho Board of Health and Welfare unanimously approved a new temporary rule continuing crisis standards of care in Idaho during a special board meeting Thursday.

The previous temporary rule expired Wednesday, Nov. 17, because the Idaho Legislature adjourned sine die on that same day. 

“Approval of this temporary docket by the board today keeps the crisis standards of care for health care entities in effect,” said Tamara Prisock with DHW.

Crisis standards of care have been active in North Idaho since Sept. 6. Officials activated crisis standards of care for health care entities statewide 10 days later due to rising COVID-19 cases that threatened to push hospital staff and resources beyond their limits.

“The activation of crisis standards of care allows healthcare entities to implement crisis strategies to address scarce resource situations when the usual standard of care cannot be provided,” reads the temporary rule justification.

According to a DHW release, when CSC is activated, people who need medical care may find no hospital beds, rooms or needed equipment available to them.

“In other words, someone who is otherwise healthy and would recover more rapidly may get treated or have access to a ventilator before someone who is not likely to recover," a DHW press release said.

Hospitals across the state, including Kootenai Health in Coeur d'Alene, have had to delay elective surgeries because they have had to care for so many COVID-19 patients.

However, on Tuesday, DHW Director Dave Jeppesen said due to recent declines in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Idaho, “I do anticipate we are on a path to exit crisis standards of care.”

Kootenai Health reported Thursday it had 64 COVID-19 patients, with 22 requiring critical care. In early October, KH had 150 COVID-19 patients, with 43 in critical care.

There have been encouraging signs in the battle against the coronavirus.

The Panhandle Health District’s positivity rate for COVID-19 declined for the sixth straight week to 10.2% for the week ending Nov. 13 based on 3,314 PCR tests. On Oct. 2, PHD’s positivity rate was 23.1%.

Kootenai County’s positivity rate fell to 9.4%, the lowest since July 17. It reached 23% on Oct. 2.

The state’s positivity rate fell for the ninth straight week to 7.2%. That’s the lowest in nearly four months.

In the last five and a half weeks, there have been 185 COVID-19 deaths in the PHD.

Health officials continue to urge people, including kids 5-11, to get vaccinated.

In Kootenai County, 46% of the population age 12 and older is fully vaccinated.