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Idaho View: Idaho crisis standards of care caused by unvaccinated COVID-19 patients affects us all
Idaho View

Idaho View: Idaho crisis standards of care caused by unvaccinated COVID-19 patients affects us all

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St. Luke's Boise

Doctors and nurses with St. Luke’s Health System work at the St. Luke’s hospital in Boise on Aug. 30.

The day we all dreaded has finally arrived: Idaho is in crisis standards of care.

What does that mean to you? Be careful what you do out there.

The hospitals are overwhelmed with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients right now.

You probably shouldn’t go mountain biking, because if you wipe out and break your collarbone, it might be difficult to get proper medical treatment.

Be careful driving. You don’t want to get injured in a car crash right now.

Keep an eye on grandma and grandpa. Don’t let them fall and break their hip. They might just be sent home to heal up.

Need a knee replacement? You’ll need to live with that pain for a while more.

Don’t have a stroke, like Bob Ferguson of Tri-Cities, Washington, did while vacationing in Idaho. He needed an ICU bed, but none were available in North Idaho, so he had to spend two days in the emergency room waiting for a bed to open up.

Don’t get gallstones, like Boise’s Ophelia Ramirez did. She needed her gallbladder removed, but had to wait an extra week in pain for her surgery to get scheduled.

And whatever you do, don’t get COVID-19, especially if you’re not vaccinated.

The numbers show that nearly every patient in Idaho hospitals and intensive care units with the virus is unvaccinated.

This really is where the argument over health freedom breaks down. The decision to not get vaccinated and not wear a mask allows the novel coronavirus, and now its variants, to spread in the community. Because COVID-19 is so transmissible, so damaging and so deadly, it’s overwhelming our health care system — and that affects everyone.


Already, non-emergency surgeries are being delayed. Doctors who would otherwise perform routine checkups are being called in to help out in the hospitals, meaning you might need to forget about that annual physical or other appointment.

For COVID-19 cases reported in Idaho from May 15 through Sept. 11, 89.9% (39,256 of 43,672 total cases) were among individuals who were not fully vaccinated, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Unvaccinated individuals accounted for 91.1% of COVID-19 hospitalizations (1,683 of 1,847) during that same time period and 88% of deaths (316 of 359).

St. Luke’s reported that 92-94% of its COVID-19 patients in the past week have been unvaccinated. And 95-98% of its COVID-19 patients taking up ICU beds were unvaccinated.

Here’s an even scarier statement, from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s strategies during crisis standards of care:

“Universal DNR Order: Adult patients hospitalized during a public health emergency, when crisis standards of care have been declared, should receive aggressive interventions; however, they should receive NO attempts at resuscitation (compressions, shocks or intubation if not yet intubated) in the event of cardiac arrest. The likelihood of survival after a cardiac arrest is extremely low for adult patients. As well, resuscitation poses significant risk to healthcare workers due to aerosolization of body fluids and uses large quantities of scarce resources such as staff time, personal protective equipment, and lifesaving medications, with minimal opportunity for benefit.”

In other words, whether we’ve signed a “do not resuscitate” directive or not, everyone single one of us is now under a DNR directive in Idaho because we’ve reached crisis standards of care due to a deadly and overwhelming surge of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in our hospitals.

And it’s all entirely preventable.

If people would simply get the vaccine, we could avoid all of this.

It’s as simple as that.

Please get vaccinated before you end up in the hospital or the ICU.

For your sake — and for everyone else’s.

Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board. Board members are opinion editor Scott McIntosh, editor Chadd Cripe and newsroom editors Dana Oland and Jim Keyser and community members J.J. Saldaña and Christy Perry.


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