On July 28, Kootenai Health had 29 COVID-19 patients with 11 of those patients requiring critical care. On Aug. 4, those numbers were 43 and 19. On Aug. 11, they were 73 and 29, and on Aug. 18, they were 85 and 36.
It is not our intent to frighten, but rather to inform our community of what lies ahead if the current trajectory continues. This past winter, it took a total of 58 days for the surge to climb from 28 patients to 87. This time it has taken less than half as long – only 21 days – and the numbers continue to escalate.
Data from our own community supports the fact that the COVID-19 delta variant is replicating and spreading much faster than the original COVID-19 alpha variant. At the hospital, we are seeing that the delta variant is also leading to more severe illness in a younger population, many of which have few if any risk factors for hospitalization. Patients age 18-60 now represent approximately 50% of those hospitalized for COVID, compared to 20% during the winter surge.
At this time, Kootenai Health has canceled elective surgeries and no longer has the capacity to receive patient transfers from other regional hospitals. Hospital leaders and physicians are critically concerned they will not have the space, equipment and staffing to provide care for everyone in our community who needs hospital care. This includes COVID-19 patients and patients who require care for other concerns such as heart attacks and injuries from car accidents.
Kootenai Health and its medical staff have explored every possible option to ensure care is available for everyone who needs it. We are now imploring our community to add their efforts to ours. We are asking every individual and family to do their part to prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19. Please get vaccinated for COVID-19, wear a mask when out in public, avoid optional large gatherings, practice social distancing and wash or sanitize your hands frequently.
Idahoans have always valued freedom and independence. We also recognize the value of working together as a community to take care of our own. Never were those qualities needed more than now. If we want continued access to health care and businesses, and for schools to remain open, every one of us must individually do our part to collectively defeat COVID-19.