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Today in Idaho hospitals and COVID-19 (updated 9/9): Patients, ERs, ICUs

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The Boise VA Medical Center is in downtown Boise, blocks from the Boise campus of St. Luke’s Health System. The VA hospital cares for veterans and is now offering to help care for civilians during the COVID-19 surge. (Audrey Dutton, Idaho Capital Sun)

Get daily updates on Idaho hospital capacity, pediatric and adult COVID-19 hospitalizations

Almost 600 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized in Idaho as of Wednesday, according to federal data. That’s up from 525 a week ago.

The Boise VA hospital recently offered to start taking non-veteran patients to help ease the strain that COVID-19 is putting on civilian hospitals. And Treasure Valley hospitals have taken them up on their offer.

“So far the Boise VA Medical Center has treated six non-veterans; and we currently have one non-veteran admitted,” Boise VAMC Public Affairs Officer Josh Callihan said in an email Wednesday.

Idaho Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen on Labor Day activated “crisis standards of care” for the North Idaho region. He warned that hospitals in the rest of the state were so overloaded with patients, especially in their ICUs, that it may soon be necessary to activate crisis standards beyond North Idaho.

Crisis standards mean that health care providers are too overwhelmed with patients and can no longer give everyone a higher standard of medical care. The goal is to save as many lives as possible. That means people who normally would receive life-saving care, even with just a small chance of survival, may instead be given end-of-life comfort care, to free up hospital resources for people more likely to survive.

State data show that Idahoans who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 are 6.4 times less likely to be hospitalized than those who aren’t, based on hospitalization rates since May.

A total of 10,184 people have been hospitalized in Idaho with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to state data. That’s about 1 in every 181 Idahoans.

Federal data show the following, based on reports submitted by hospitals for Wednesday, Sept. 8. Almost every hospital in the state that is capable of taking COVID-19 patients reported its numbers that day. For quick visual reference, numbers in black are unchanged from the previous day, numbers in red are worsened, and numbers in green are improved.

      • Idaho hospitals with a critical staffing shortage: 5 (previous day: 4)
      • People hospitalized with COVID-19: 596 (previous day: 566) which is 25.2% (previous day: 26.1%) of people hospitalized for all reasons
      • Adults in the ICU with COVID-19: 168 (previous day: 174)
      • Children hospitalized with COVID-19: 5 (previous day: 4)*
      • Patients newly admitted to the hospital with confirmed or suspected COVID-19: 88 (previous day: 65)Children: 0 (previous day: 0)*
        Age 18-19: 0 (previous day: 1)20s: 4 (previous day: 1)30s: 9 (previous day: 3)40s: 9 (previous day: 6)50s: 14 (previous day: 14)60s: 18 (previous day: 15)70s: 20 (previous day: 13)80+: 14 (previous day: 11)age unknown: 0 (previous day: 1)
      • People who died in Idaho hospitals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19: 7 (previous day: 9)

Note: These numbers may differ from those reported by the state, local public health districts or individual hospitals. There are multiple reasons for this: Some agencies use different methods and data sources. Some Idaho hospitals may be behind on reporting through the federal portal from which the Sun gets its data. Hospital census always fluctuates as patients are admitted, discharged, moved to and from the ICU, and remain hospitalized for ongoing care.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.