By Kanishka Singh
(Reuters) – Idaho Governor Brad Little said on Tuesday he was reactivating the National Guard and directing up to 370 additional people to help hospitals as they were overwhelmed with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.
There were only four intensive care unit beds available Tuesday in the entire state, out of nearly 400, the governor said in a statement.
“Where hospitals have converted other spaces to be used as contingency ICU beds, those are filling up too,” Governor Little said.
Up to 150 guardsmen will support short-staffed medical facilities and will be tasked with logistical support such as screenings, lab work, and other duties, according to details of the plans to reactivate the National Guard. An additional 200 medical and administrative personnel will be available to Idaho through a contract with the U.S. General Services Administration.
A 20-person Department of Defense medical response team will be deployed to North Idaho, where vaccination rates are among the lowest in the state, the governor said.
“We are dangerously close to activating statewide crisis standards of care – a historic step that means Idahoans in need of healthcare could receive a lesser standard of care or may be turned away altogether”, he added.
The U.S. state of Idaho has thus far seen 221,389 cases of COVID-19 and recorded over 2,300 deaths from the coronavirus, according to the website of the Idaho Department of Health. There were 1,226 new coronavirus cases recorded on Tuesday.
Over 820,000 people in the state have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine while over 733,000 people are fully vaccinated, according to government data.
“Idaho hospitals are beyond constrained”, the governor said on Tuesday. “It is simply not sustainable. Please choose to receive the vaccine now to support your fellow Idahoans who need you”.