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Idaho lifts ‘crisis standards’ designation for hospitals

Idaho has lifted the “crisis standards of care” designation for hospitals in the southwestern portion of the state, with public health officials saying coronavirus-related staffing and blood shortages have improved somewhat, though hospitals remain stressed.

The crisis standards of care designation — which allows hospitals to triage health care as needed when they don’t have the capacity to deal with patient influxes — was put in place for 18 counties in the southern half of the state about three weeks ago, as the omicron variant of the coronavirus surged statewide. At the time, many health care providers were struggling because so many staffers were unable to work after they had contracted or been exposed to COVID-19. The hospitals were also reeling from a nationwide shortage of blood products, forcing many to implement blood conservation strategies.

Health care systems across the state are still using “contingency operations,” which means they are not yet able to operate normally, and dealing with high patient numbers.

“Even though things are improving, the number of COVID-19 cases statewide and the testing percent positivity is still very high,” Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said in a statement. “Please continue to take the recommended precautions and get vaccinated and boosted, wear a mask in public places, and stay home if you feel sick so those numbers keep trending in the right direction.”

Idaho ranks ninth in the country for newly reported COVID-19 cases per capita, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, with 1 in every 152 residents testing positive within the past week. The state was averaging 474 COVID-19 hospitalizations through Feb. 14, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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