Gov. Little holds press conference to discuss COVID-19 concerns in Idaho

With the growth of COVID-19 cases in Idaho, Gov. Brad Little held a press conference to discuss how to address current hospital capacity issues. 

With a new record of 2,298 COVID-19 cases reported in Idaho on Wednesday, Dec. 9, the state had the highest national rate of test positivity of 22.9%, according to the White House Coronavirus Task Force report released Dec. 6. Currently, there is 119 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds available in Idaho and 481 available ventilators. 

Since March 13, 2020, 116,203 Idahoans have contracted coronavirus and 1,103 have died from the disease. Little addressed the health problems and risks that the coronavirus can cause the community and individuals.

Photo by Mackenzie Hudson

In some parts of the state, emergency calls for people with COVID-19 are up 300% and some of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff are out sick due to the virus, which is causing delays in response time, according to Little.

“The vast majority of Idaho’s hospitals are being pushed to their limits, too many health care workers are out sick with COVID-19 or in quarantine due to exposure,” Little said.

Little noted that Idaho will be staying in Stage 2 in a statewide public health order to combat the rise in cases over the last month.

“The goal of the pandemic response has always been to elevate and preserve healthcare capacity so that we can continue to be healthy and have access to care when we need it,” Little said. 

Physical distancing and mask-wearing are encouraged. There is no state-wide mask mandate. Little emphasized the urgent necessity that Idahoans take the coronavirus seriously in order to combat the rising number of cases and limited hospital capacity that is affecting our community.

According to Little, individuals going to the hospital for any non-coronavirus-related reasons might have to wait long periods of time to be seen or may not receive a hospital bed at all due to current capacity issues. 

Addressing people who do not “believe” in the coronavirus, Little cited that the information hospitals are giving is accurate and that the increase in the spread of the virus will affect everyone in some way.

“Please make the right choices. Choose to wear a mask when around anyone who is not a member of your household, choose to avoid gatherings and keep physical distancing between you and others,” Little said. “And if we all choose to love our neighbors to do a better job, we will be able to protect lives, protect our workforce, protect our economy and protect our children from falling behind.”

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