The Idaho Department of Health and Wellness on Thursday announced a statewide hospital resource crisis in response to their massive increase of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization.

This declaration is an expansion to Idaho’s “crisis standards of care” established last week, which allowed select hospitals and two public health districts to ration health care and triage patients. Now, the entire state will have the authorization to ration their already exhausted resources.

“The situation is dire – we don’t have enough resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals, whether you are there for COVID-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident,” DHW Director Dave Jeppesen said in a statement.

“The best way to end crisis standards of care is for more people to get vaccinated. It dramatically reduces your chances of having to go to the hospital if you do get sick from COVID-19. In addition, please wear a mask indoors in public and outdoors when it’s crowded to help slow the spread” Jeppesen added.

About 46% of Idaho’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while 40% are fully vaccinated. While 80% of those aged 65 and up are fully vaccinated, there is currently no data regarding the state’s vaccination rate for those aged 12 and older.

Expanding the “crisis standards of care" means hospitals statewide are now allowed to make changes to patient treatment. It also permits 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, NBC News noted.

Dr. David Pate, a member of Idaho's coronavirus task force, told NBC that sometimes it takes seven to eight hours to get in contact with another hospital with available beds. The long wait time can put emergency patients at risk of not surviving.

"It doesn't matter what you believe about Covid right now. What matters is that our health care system's at capacity," said Pate. "I'm just asking people, work with us for a month, six weeks — humor us. Be careful, don't get in a large crowd, wear a mask and please do consider getting vaccinated.”

Idaho reported a 34% rise of COVID-19 infections in the past two weeks, hitting an average of new cases not seen since January. As for hospitalizations, the state is reaching a peak not seen throughout the entire pandemic.

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