With COVID-19 hospitalizations at a record high in North Idaho, Coeur d’Alene-based Kootenai Health has converted its largest classroom in its Health Resource Center into a patient care unit.

The health system is currently caring for a record 96 COVID-19 patients in its hospital, with 37 of those in critical care, according to a news release Wednesday from Kootenai Health. The previous record was 91 hospitalized COVID-19 patients on Dec. 23, 2020. About 97% of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated, a Kootenai Health spokesperson told the Idaho Statesman on Wednesday.

Based on predictive models and the rapid spread of the COVID-19 delta variant in the area, Kootenai Health said it expects the surge to continue to escalate, which is why the classroom space was converted.

Only about 40% of Kootenai County residents age 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The four other counties in the Panhandle Health District — Benewah (42%), Bonner (38%), Boundary (32%) and Shoshone (39%) — have similarly low vaccination rates. Nationwide, 60.5% of the population age 12 and older is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kootenai County’s COVID-19 test positivity rate was 17% for 3,084 tests conducted Aug. 8-14. The statewide rate for the same date range was 12.8%.

“This week, within a 36-hour period, four COVID-19 patients at Kootenai Health passed away. Three of them were 45 or younger,” the news release reads. “Yesterday Kootenai installed a new, higher-capacity oxygen tank because the hospitalized COVID-19 patients they are seeing now have a much greater need for oxygen. They also continue to seek additional clinical staff to care for the growing surge of COVID-19 patients.”

The converted classroom will be used to care for low-acuity COVID-19 patients and can accommodate up to 22 individuals. Separate rooms in the Health Resource Center were converted to provide monoclonal antibody therapy to COVID-19 patients who are not hospitalized.

“Providing patient care in this space will mean a transition to crisis standards of care. Crisis standards of care are guidelines that help health care providers decide how to deliver the best care possible under extraordinary circumstances,” Kootenai Health said. “These can include disasters or public health emergencies when health care systems are so overwhelmed by patients, or resources are so scarce, it is no longer possible to provide all patients the level of care they would receive under normal circumstances. The goal of crisis standards of care is to extend care to as many patients as possible and save as many lives as possible.

“Only the state has the authority to issue a crisis standards of care declaration. Such a declaration can be issued for a given region or the entire state. Kootenai Health leaders are participating on the Idaho crisis standards of care taskforce and providing information on the current situation as it relates to the need to issue a crisis standards of care declaration.”

Just last week, Kootenai Health warned it was nearing capacity and issued a news release urging the community to do their part to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The hospital was forced to cancel elective surgeries and said it no longer has the capacity to receive patient transfers from other regional hospitals.

As of Monday, the most recent day for which data was available, there were 436 people hospitalized statewide with COVID-19, including 135 in intensive care. Idaho’s COVID-19 hospitalization high for the pandemic stands at 496 from Dec. 1, 2020.

Health and Welfare reported a combined 1,019 new COVID-19 cases and eight new coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday. It marks the third day in a row that Idaho has added more than 1,000 cases. Idaho’s seven-day moving average sits at 647 cases per day, an increase of more than 1,200% since July 5, when the average was 49.7 cases per day.

All but three of Idaho’s 45 counties added new cases Wednesday, with Ada (314 new) and Canyon (155 new) leading the way.

For a county-by-county breakdown of Wednesday’s new cases and deaths, see our “What we know” file at IdahoStatesman.com.

Long-term care update

As of Wednesday, Health and Welfare reports that there are 2,689 active coronavirus cases between 66 facilities, which is up from last week’s 2,404 cases. There are 258 facilities with resolved outbreaks.

To date, 820 people from 182 long-term facilities in Idaho have died from COVID-19-related causes — six more than was reported last week. Long-term care residents account for about 35% of the 2,316 deaths in the state.

The most recent data from Health and Welfare shows that 75.5% of Idahoans age 65 and older have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Below is a list of long-term care facilities by city that have active cases of the coronavirus among residents and/or staff. For an outbreak to be considered “resolved,” more than 28 days must pass (two incubation periods) without any additional cases associated with the facility.

Ammon: Promontory Point Rehabilitation; Bellevue: Cove of Cascadia; Blackfoot: Bingham Memorial Skilled Nursing; Boise: State Veterans Home-Boise, Aspen Valley Senior Living, Park Place Assisted Living, Edgewood Spring Creek-Overland, Cottages of Boise, Edgewood Spring Creek Ustick, Terraces of Boise, Ashley Manor-Cloverdale, Cascadia of Boise, Arbor Valley of Cascadia; Buhl: Desert View Care; Burley: Parke View Rehab; Caldwell: Lenity Senior Living; Chubbuck: Brookdale Chubbuck;

Coeur d’Alene: Ivy Court, Garden at Orchard Ridge, Pacifica Senior Living Coeur d’Alene, Advanced Health Care of Coeur d’Alene, Legends Park Assisted Living, Life Care Center of Coeur d’Alene; Eagle: Foxtail Senior Living; Emmett: Apple Valley Residence, Meadow View Assisted Living; Garden City: Emerson House at Riverpointe; Hayden: Harmony House Assisted Living; Idaho Falls: MorningStar of Idaho Falls; Jerome: Creekside Residential Care Center;

Kuna: Communicare No. 5 Kuna, Swan Falls Assisted Living; Lewiston: Advanced Health Care of Lewiston, Brookdale Lewiston, Golden Girls Residential Care, Generations at Lewiston (formerly Guardian Angel), Royal Plaza-Lewiston; Meridian: Edgewood Spring Creek Meridian, Harmony Hills, Tomorrow’s Hope-Lavin, Crestwood Serenity Assisted Living, Meridian Meadows Transitional Care, Meridian Meadows Assisted Living; Montpelier: Bear Lake Manor, Bear Lake Memorial Skilled Nursing;

Moscow: Good Samaritan Society-Moscow Village; Nampa: Grace Assisted Living-Nampa, Meadow View Nursing & Rehab, Wellspring of Cascadia, Golden Years-Maryland; Payette: Payette Healthcare of Cascadia; Pinehurst: Pacifica Senior Living Pinehurst; Pocatello: Gateway Transitional Care Center, Brookdale Pocatello, Monte Vista Hills, State Veterans Home-Pocatello, Quail Ridge; Post Falls: Life Care of Post Falls; Preston: Heritage Senior Living; Rupert: Countryside Care and Rehab; Sandpoint: Life Care Center of Sandpoint; Silverton: Good Samaritan Society-Silver Wood Village; Twin Falls: Serenity Transitional Care, Brookdale Twin Falls, Heritage Assisted Living, Canyons Retirement Community.

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