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Today in Idaho hospitals and COVID-19 (updated 10/2): Patients, ERs, ICUs

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Hospitals in Idaho are working to manage interruptions in the usual flow of patients through the hospital. (Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay)

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

Idaho began October stuck in a COVID-19 whirlpool.

New infections continued to rise, even as positive test results overtook Idaho public health agencies’ ability to record them. The agencies had a backlog of nearly 10,000 cases as of Oct. 1.

The number of hospitalizations and intensive care admissions for COVID-19 continued to bounce around in range of 700 to 800 patients each day, according to federal data. While adult hospitalizations decreased, more children were hospitalized. And the state breached its record for mortality, with 53 deaths related to COVID-19 in just one day at the end of September.

Idaho health care workers told the Sun this week that, while they remain able to care for any patient who comes through the door, their ICUs were overflowing into areas not previously used for intensive care. In one day, at one local hospital, several COVID-19 patients left hospital rooms in body bags. Nurses and doctors told the Sun that COVID-19 patients are arriving at the hospital sicker, after attempting to treat themselves at home with unproven or harmful remedies.

Meanwhile, those hospital systems and health care providers are giving as many infusions as they can of monoclonal antibody treatments each day. The pharmacy director of St. Luke’s Health System, which enlisted its pharmacists to administer the potentially life-saving medications, told the Sun on Friday that a clinic in rural Fruitland was filled all week.

Almost every person hospitalized with COVID-19 is unvaccinated. That has not changed since vaccines became widely available to Idahoans, according to the Idaho Division of Public Health and individual hospitals.

Federal data show the following, based on reports from hospitals for Friday, Oct. 1. (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: 743) which is 28.6% (previous day: 28.3%) of people hospitalized for all reasons
  • Adults in the ICU with COVID-19: 191 (previous day: 191)
  • Children hospitalized with COVID-19: 19 (previous day: 13)
  • Patients newly admitted to the hospital with confirmed or suspected COVID-19: 83 (previous day: 87)
  • Rolling 7-day average of newly hospitalized COVID-19 patients, by age:
    Children: 3 (previous day’s rolling average: 3)
    Age 18-19: 1 (previous: 0)
    20s: 2 (previous: 3)
    30s: 6 (previous: 6)
    40s: 8 (previous: 8)
    50s: 14 (previous: 16)
    60s: 19 (previous: 19)
    70s: 17 (previous: 19)
    80+: 10 (previous: 11)
    age unknown: 1 (previous: 1)
  • People who died in Idaho hospitals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19: 12 (previous day: 16)
  • Staffed adult ICU beds that were still available statewide, according to Idaho Department of Health and Welfare data: 16 (previous day: 6)

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.