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Today in Idaho hospitals and COVID-19 (updated 11/6): Patients, ERs, ICUs

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A Kootenai Health critical care nurse in heavy PPE. While in the COVID-19 isolation unit, nursing staff deliver food and help clean rooms to prevent unnecessary travel from other departments. (Courtesy of Kootenai Health)

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

The number of COVID-19 patients in Idaho hospitals on Friday was about 10% lower than just one week ago.

However, in that time, more than 70 people died in Idaho hospitals from COVID-19.

Patients with the coronavirus disease occupied about 13% of Idaho hospital beds on Friday. When it came to beds in Idaho’s intensive care units, the rate was much higher. Largely because of those ICU patient loads, especially in North Idaho, the state remains under crisis standards of care for the 51st day.

Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday had more than 100% of its usual ICU capacity taken by COVID-19 patients, Chief Physician Executive Dr. Karen Cabell told the Sun.

But the hospital still needed to provide critical care to patients with other serious illnesses and injuries. Where to put them? How to expand staffing to ensure patients get around-the-clock care? Those questions are a major reason why Kootenai Health has been operating in crisis standards for two months.

To ensure it could provide even a crisis-standards (substandard) level of care to all the patients coming into the hospital, Kootenai Health opened four ICU departments instead of the usual two. It doubled the number of critical care physicians working in those ICUs.

Kootenai Health had 103 COVID-19 patients on Friday morning. That included 31 patients needing ICU beds, and one child.

Idaho continues to have among the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But each day, hundreds of people in the state receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to state vaccination data.

“It’s not too late to get the vaccine,” Idaho Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch told the Idaho Capital Sun in a recent interview.

Federal data show the following, based on reports from hospitals for Friday, Nov. 5. (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: 435 (previous day: 439) which is 17.8% (previous day: 17.7%) of people hospitalized for all reasons
  • Adults in the ICU with COVID-19: 129 (previous day: 128)
  • Children hospitalized with COVID-19: 5 (previous day: 5)
  • Patients newly admitted to the hospital with confirmed or suspected COVID-19: 60 (previous day: 63)
  • Rolling 7-day average of new COVID-19 admissions each day, by age:
    Children: 2 (previous day’s rolling average: 2)
    Age 18-19: 0 (previous: 0)
    20s: 2 (previous: 2)
    30s: 3 (previous: 4)
    40s: 6 (previous: 6)
    50s: 10 (previous: 8)
    60s: 11 (previous: 10)
    70s: 9 (previous: 11)
    80+: 8 (previous: 8)
    age unknown: 0 (previous: 0)
  • People who died in Idaho hospitals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19: 11 (previous day: 10)
  • Staffed adult ICU beds that were still available statewide, according to Idaho Department of Health and Welfare data: 19 (previous day: 19)

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 provide numbers that are as accurate as possible; for example, it reduces the risk that hospitalizations appear to plummet when 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.