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Today in Idaho hospitals and COVID-19 (updated 10/25): Patients, ERs, ICUs

Doctors behind sunblind caring for patient in emergency care unit of a hospital with respiratory equipment
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Idaho is one of only two states that do not participate in the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. It’s a program sponsored by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. It offers a wide range of health care data to researchers, journalists and other members of the public. (Getty Images)

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

Idaho remains in a statewide hospital crisis for the 39th day. While the number of people needing intensive care for COVID-19 has slowly declined, more than half of Idaho’s adult ICU beds remain filled by coronavirus patients who are critically ill.

That is in spite of health care surge staffing that increased the number of staffed adult ICU beds statewide. Idaho currently has an average of 323 staffed adult ICU beds in hospitals throughout the state; the number of COVID-19 patients in those beds has been stuck at above 150.

Idaho is in better shape now than it was a month ago, according to data and statements from health officials. Fewer people are in the hospital with COVID-19, and fewer need intensive care.

But as the number of adults hospitalized with COVID-19 has fallen, children remain hospitalized in higher numbers than at other points in the pandemic. That coincides with a surge in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections in Idaho. RSV is a common viral disease in young children and can lead to hospitalization on its own.

“Having RSV may lower immunity and increase the risk of getting COVID-19 — for kids and adults,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “And these infections may occur together, which can worsen the severity of COVID-19 illness.”

The latest surge, driven by the highly transmissible delta variant, continues to challenge hospitals in North Idaho, the Treasure Valley and some rural pockets of the state.

Federal data show the following, based on reports from hospitals for Sunday, Oct. 24. (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: 545 (previous day: 550) which is 22.7% (previous day: 22.7%) of people hospitalized for all reasons
  • Adults in the ICU with COVID-19: 157 (previous day: 152)
  • Children hospitalized with COVID-19: 7 (previous day: 10)
  • Patients newly admitted to the hospital with confirmed or suspected COVID-19: 53 (previous day: 59)
  • Rolling 7-day average of new COVID-19 admissions each day, by age:
    Children: 1 (previous day’s rolling average: 2)
    Age 18-19: 0 (previous: 0)
    20s: 4 (previous: 4)
    30s: 4 (previous: 4)
    40s: 6 (previous: 6)
    50s: 10 (previous: 9)
    60s: 12 (previous: 12)
    70s: 16 (previous: 16)
    80+: 6 (previous: 8)
    age unknown: 0 (previous: 2)
  • People who died in Idaho hospitals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19: 5 (previous day: 5)
  • Staffed adult ICU beds that were still available statewide, according to Idaho Department of Health and Welfare data: 14 (previous day: 15)

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.