Idaho’s COVID cases increased over 40% in the past two weeks, prompting health officials to activate the state’s “crisis standards of care” on Tuesday in response to some overburdened hospitals.

Idaho, the state with one of the lowest vaccination rates, reported a “massive increase in patients with COVID-19 who require hospitalization” which has led to staff and bed shortages. At least 10 hospitals in two public health districts will be under “crisis standards of care” but this measure could spread statewide, health officials said in a statement. 

“For the rest of the state, we remain dangerously close to crisis standards of care,” Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said Tuesday in a statement. 

There are only nine available intensive care unit beds in all of Idaho. This means that there are more COVID-19 infected patients than hospitals can handle. 

“Crisis standards of care is a last resort. It means we have exhausted our resources to the point that our healthcare systems are unable to provide the treatment and care we expect,” Jeppesen said.

He added that “the best tools we have to turn this around is for more people to get vaccinated and to wear masks indoors and in outdoor crowded public places. Please choose to get vaccinated as soon as possible – it is your very best protection against being hospitalized from Covid-19.”

NBC News noted that "crisis standards of care" will allow hospitals to designate scarce resources like intensive care unit rooms to patients most likely to survive while putting other patients in hospital conference rooms rather than hospital rooms. It also permits hospitals to make other changes to patient treatment. 

“Unfortunately we haven’t been really at our normal standards for some time,” Dr. Robert Scoggins, the chief of staff for Kootenai Health, the largest hospital in northern Idaho, told the Associated Press.

Idaho has a population of about 1.8 million.

The U.S. passed 40 million total COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, hitting an average of new cases not seen since January.