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Today in Idaho hospitals and COVID-19 (updated 9/22): Patients, ERs, ICUs

Two health care workers at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center’s Boise ICU don heavy PPE to enter a COVID-19 patient’s hospital room in on Sept. 16, 2021. (Audrey Dutton, Idaho Capital Sun)

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

The coronavirus continued its march through Idaho this week. While data are preliminary, Idaho’s COVID-19 hospitalization numbers reached new highs Monday and Tuesday.

Idaho hospitals in recent days have reported the nation’s highest rates of COVID-19 among both ICU patients and overall hospitalizations, according to federal data. This week, Idaho’s ICUs were more crowded than ever before; more people were hospitalized with COVID-19 than ever before; and hospitals admitted more new COVID-19 patients than ever before.

However, those rates are preliminary. A few Idaho hospitals are two days behind on updating their COVID-19 data.

Idaho last week moved into a statewide declaration of “crisis standards of care,” which gives hospitals, nurses and doctors an ethical framework to use scarce resources. At its most extreme, crisis standards offers a scoring system for health care providers to use in determining who gets life-saving care, such as a ventilator.

Almost every person hospitalized with COVID-19 is not fully vaccinated. Idaho’s largest hospital system, St. Luke’s, reports that 88% of its COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. Almost no vaccinated patient is sick enough to need an ICU bed.

Federal data show the following, based on reports from hospitals for Tuesday, Sept. 21. (See “Notes” below for additional information about the data.) For quick visual reference, numbers in black are unchanged from the previous day, numbers in red are worsened, and numbers in green are improved.

  • People hospitalized with COVID-19: 758 (previous day: 762) which is 31.8% (previous day: 32.6%) of people hospitalized for all reasons
  • Adults in the ICU with COVID-19: 196 (previous day: 196)
  • Children hospitalized with COVID-19: 8 (previous day: 8)
  • Patients newly admitted to the hospital with confirmed or suspected COVID-19: 111 (previous day: 102)Children: 2 (previous day: 0)
    Age 18-19: 1 (previous day: 0)20s: 5 (previous day: 1)30s: 6 (previous day: 6)40s: 6 (previous day: 11)50s: 8 (previous day: 9)60s: 32 (previous day: 20)70s: 23 (previous day: 23)80+: 27 (previous day: 32)age unknown: 1 (previous day: 0)
  • People who died in Idaho hospitals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19: 14 (previous day: 14)
  • Staffed adult ICU beds that were still available statewide, according to Idaho Department of Health and Welfare data: 16 (previous day: 13)

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. Hospital census always fluctuates as patients are admitted, discharged, moved to and from the ICU, and remain hospitalized for ongoing care. And some Idaho hospitals may be behind on reporting through the federal portal from which the Sun gets its data, which can result in revisions to the previous one to three days’ totals. (The federal data use the most recent numbers reported by each hospital in the previous four-day period. The rationale is to get the numbers as close as possible to being accurate; for example, it reduces the risk of hospitalizations appearing to plummet if a large hospital misses a day of reporting.) Where the Sun shows a “previous day” count, that is the number reported the previous day, regardless of whether it was revised up or down since then.

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.