PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — COVID-19 patients in northern Idaho soon may have to be sent to Portland or Seattle.
This news comes as the region’s major hospitals near capacity while Idaho is seeing its largest coronavirus spike since the pandemic began. Earlier this week, one major hospital in Idaho announced that it is 99% full.
Doctors say as soon as somebody gets discharged, someone else is filling that empty bed. If there isn’t an empty bed and a patient is in an emergency situation, they have to wait in long lines and are getting treated in unusual areas of the hospital.
Furthermore, they’re short-staffed at the hospital — because workers are coming down with COVID-19 themselves.
The chief physician at Kootenai Health says this situation is unprecedented for them.
“It’s becoming real really fast,” Dr. Karen Cabell said. “We really just need to plea with the public to be as careful as possible, stay home if you’re sick.”
As of Wednesday morning, Kootenai Health had 31 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, 11 of them requiring critical care. They’ve tried to transfer patients to free up space, but other regional hospitals have declined to accept those patients or have been very selective.
That’s why Kootenai Health is now considering sending some of their patients to hospitals either in Portland or Seattle.
Unlike most states, Idaho’s governor has not made a statewide requirement for masks. However, they’re not alone in seeing a coronavirus spike.
Hospitals across the country are starting to buckle from the resurgence, with several states setting records for the number of people hospitalized and leaders scrambling to find extra beds and staff. New highs in cases have been reported in states big and small — from Idaho to Ohio — in recent days.
The United States recorded more than 75,000 confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday — a mere hundreds of cases away a single-day record set in July, according to a New York Times database.
The Times reports 75,049 cases on Thursday compared to some 75,600 on July 16 during the nation’s second case peak.
The country has now reached an average of 62,000 daily coronavirus cases inching closer to the average of 66,000 daily cases we saw in mid-July. The recent numbers, who show a 30% spike in cases over the last 14 days, certainly indicate we’re now in the middle of a third COVID-19 peak — and possibly on the path to the highest mark yet.
Deaths are starting to climb as well. After being relatively flat last week, we’ve seen a 9% increase in COVID fatalities in the 14-day average. While 828 deaths were reported Thursday, we saw a death toll of 1,170 on Wednesday. That’s the highest daily figure in a month, according to the New York Times.
Nexstar contributed to this KOIN 6 report.