National Guard to Be Deployed in Idaho as State Struggles to Handle Overwhelming COVID Cases
14:49 GMT 01.09.2021 (Updated: 13:23 GMT 06.08.2022)
The entire US is suffering from the raging Delta variant of the coronavirus as federal and state authorities struggle to motivate people to get COVID-19 vaccines. The latter has been shown to largely prevent complications from the novel coronavirus infection, thus easing the burden on medical facilities.
The Republican governor of Idaho, Brad Little, has announced he will be deploying the National Guard in order to help state medical facilities handle the rising count of COVID-19 hospitalisations. He warned that the state is close to depleting its capabilities to treat new patients, regardless of whether they are infected with COVID-19 or requiring other medical assistance.
"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. In essence, someone would have to decide who can be treated and who cannot. This affects all of us", Little said.
According to the governor, up to 370 National Guard members will be deployed for the task in Idaho, with 150 of them designated to "support short-staffed medical facilities". In addition to that, Little said that the Pentagon will provide a medical response team consisting of 20 specialists, while the US General Services Administration will deploy 200 medical and administrative personnel in the state to help with surging cases.
Governor Little went on to warn that the state healthcare system is not designed to "withstand the prolonged strain" and urged people to vaccinate, since according to his data most hospitalised persons did not get their jabs.
"It is simply not sustainable. Please choose to receive the vaccine now to support your fellow Idahoans who need you", the governor said.
Over the past month and a half, daily new cases in Idaho have steadily risen from around 150 in the middle of July to over 1,000 on the peak days in August. These numbers were last seen in the state during the last surge in January 2021. The current country-wide increase in COVID cases is believed to be caused by the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus.
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The number of hospitalised people with COVID-19 also grew during this period, from 123 patients on 14 July to 459 patients on 29 August, distributed among 51 institutions. At the same time, Idaho only slightly lags behind the country-wide levels of COVID immunisation, with 49% of the population older than 12 being fully vaccinated versus 52.4% overall across the US. However, the state is behind on the vaccination of the elderly, who are more prone to suffering from complications and dying from COVID-19 – only 75.5% of those aged above 65 have received two jabs, versus 81.7% across the US.