'Unprecedented': Idaho rations hospital care due to 'massive increase' in COVID patients

'Unprecedented': Idaho rations hospital care due to 'massive increase' in COVID patients
U.S. Navy Lt. Gail Evangelista, nurse, assigned to Naval Hospital Rota, Spain, dons a facemask prior to interacting with a patient at the Michaud Expeditionary Medical Facility (EMF) at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 16, 2020. Evangelista is part of a four-member team sent by Naval Forces Africa to augment critical positions within the EMF during the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling existing EMF staff to execute their primary mission of treating trauma patients. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dylan Murakami)

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) on Tuesday announced it has implemented a hospital care rationing program due to a "massive increase" in coronavirus patients in the northern part of the state that is causing a "severe shortage of staffing and available beds." The goal is to "save as many lives as possible," suggesting a rationing of resources means some may not receive normal standards of care.

Governor Brad Little says this is "an unprecedented and unwanted point in the history of our state," and urged Idahoans to get vaccinated.

"We have taken so many steps to avoid getting here, but yet again we need to ask more Idahoans to choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. More Idahoans need to choose to receive the vaccine so we can minimize the spread of the disease and reduce the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, many of which involve younger Idahoans and are preventable with safe and effective vaccines."

Idaho ranks 42nd in fully-vaccinated adults.

"The move allows hospitals to allot scarce resources like intensive care unit rooms to patients most likely to survive," the AP adds. "Other patients will still receive care, but they may be placed in classrooms or conference rooms rather than traditional hospital rooms or go without some life-saving medical equipment."

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