Gov. Brad Little reactivating National Guard to help Idaho hospitals

Gov. Brad Little reactivating National Guard to help Idaho hospitals
Posted at 12:35 PM, Aug 31, 2021

Gov. Brad Little announced Tuesday he is reactivating the National Guard and directing hundreds of new medical personnel to help Idaho hospitals overwhelmed with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.

The move is a “last-ditch effort to avoid the first-ever activation of statewide crisis standards of care by adding hundreds of new medical personnel for Idaho hospitals,” according to Little’s office.

Related: Kootenai Health transitions to crisis standards of care, converts classroom to care unit

Little is adding up to 370 additional personnel to help hospitals with the latest COVID-19 surge. The release says by mobilizing the Idaho National Guard again, up to 150 guardsmen will support short-staffed medical facilities. They will be doing logistical support like screenings, lab work and other duties.

Around 200 additional medical and administrative personnel will be made available to the state through a contract with the U.S. General Services Administration. The release also says a 20-person Department of Defense medical response team will be deployed to north Idaho, where they are experiencing the greatest need.

“Idaho hospitals are beyond constrained. Our healthcare system is designed to deal with the everyday realities of life. Our healthcare system is NOT designed to withstand the prolonged strain caused by a global pandemic. It is simply not sustainable. Please choose to receive the vaccine now to support your fellow Idahoans who need you,” Little said.

Related: Gov. Brad Little: 3 COVID-19 antibody treatment centers opening to help with hospital capacity

The Idaho National Guard’s COVID-19 Task Force started wrapping up operations in July after completing more than 70 mission assignments. Little authorized the initial activation of 50 personnel in March of 2020.

The release says Little directed new funds to help hospitals attract and retain medical staff. His administration also announced that temporary licensing fees are waived for retired or inactive nurses so they can reenter the workforce easier at this time.

In Idaho, 731,701 people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The state reported 1,312 new cases for Sunday and Monday.

DWH Director Dave Jeppesen referenced the data above and stated, “So if you look, you can see how quickly the line is increasing here for COVID patients in the hospital. It is going up much more quickly than it was last winter and we fully expect that daily average census for this upcoming week to exceed our previous peak.”