Due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, the state of Idaho is facing a health emergency so dire that doctors and nurses are attempting to transport patients to other states.
The Idaho Department of Health and Wellness declared on Thursday that the state is experiencing a hospital resource crisis. That declaration allows medical facilities to ration resources and the care of triage patients in order to adequately deal with the crush of hospitalizations due to COVID.
According to reporting from NBC News, doctors and nurses in Idaho have been contacting hospitals in other states across the West to see if they can transfer individual patients — with some calling 30 or more hospitals, across multiple states, in order to find space for even a single patient.
The situation is so urgent that doctors and nurses have reached out to medical facilities in states like Texas and Georgia. The crisis endangers both coronavirus patients and those who are hospitalized with unrelated ailments.
“We don’t have enough resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals, whether you are there for COVID-19, or a heart attack, or because of a car accident,” said Dave Jeppesen, the director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
Hospitals are also being forced to improvise when it comes to patient care. A hospital in the city of Coeur d’Alene has tried to attract nurses to come and work at its location by offering a pay rate of $250 per hour. The hospital has also converted a conference room into a COVID overflow unit.
The state is currently identifying 69 new cases of coronavirus per day for every 100,000 of its residents — a rate that makes it the ninth highest in the nation, in terms of new cases being identified. Idaho has a COVID mortality rate that is 81 percent higher than the national average and the state ranks sixth highest for coronavirus per capita deaths per day.
The state’s leaders have proven that they cannot be depended on to mitigate the spread of the virus. Republican Gov. Brad Little, for instance, has promoted vaccines but doesn’t believe in vaccination mandates, and has not issued a statewide mask order in light of the crisis. In fact, he is planning to take legal action against the Biden administration over proposed vaccination rules for companies that employ over 100 workers.
Other leaders in the state, including health officials, have spread misinformation about COVID-19, possibly contributing to the worsening crisis.
Ryan Cole, a dermopathologist with no public health history, was appointed to Idaho’s Central District Board of Health (CDH) earlier this month. Cole, whom many describe as an anti-vaxxer, gave a presentation to America’s Frontline Doctors last month, an organization that is notorious for peddling falsehoods about the coronavirus. During the event, Cole called COVID vaccinations “clot shots,” and described vaccines as “needle rape.”
Cole’s fear mongering lies about the danger of vaccines may have also resulted in the state’s residents adopting an anti-vaccination stance. Despite the emergency resource crisis Idaho’s hospitals face, as of Thursday, only 40 percent of Idahoans are fully vaccinated.