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Idaho COVID-19 patients are ‘clogging up my hospitals,’ Washington governor says

Washington state residents can’t get help at hospitals because Idaho COVID-19 patients are using up hospital beds, Inslee claims

A photo from St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Boise, Idaho.
A nurse holds the hand of a COVID-19 patient in the Medical Intensive care unit at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Boise, Idaho.
Kyle Gree, Associated Press

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, criticized Idaho’s response to the coronavirus pandemic because Idaho COVID-19 patients are filling up Washington’s hospitals.

  • “Today in my state, Washington citizens in many cases cannot get heart surgery, cannot get cancer surgery that they need, because we are having to take too many people of unvaccinated nature and unmasked, many of whom come from Idaho, and that’s just maddening frankly,” Inslee told MSNBC last week, according to The Hill.
  • “So we are calling for Idaho and the leaders there to lead and take some commonsense measures,” Inslee added. “I’m disappointed the governor of Idaho has spent more time trying to reduce protection by reducing vaccine usage instead of concentrating on this, and then clogging up my hospitals.”

Idaho Gov. Brad Little responded on social media, saying that parts of Washington state were virus hot spots that were leading to a surge in cases.

  • “Governor Inslee blames Idaho, yet Spokane County and the surrounding area on his side of the border continue to be hot spots for virus activity with the lowest vaccination rates in Washington, despite Governor Inslee issuing vaccine and mask mandates,” he said in a tweet.

Indeed, Idaho has been facing its own COVID-19 crisis. Idaho has enacted its “crisis standards of care” after it was hit with a massive COVID-19 surge that overwhelmed hospitals, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

In fact, Idaho hospitals became so overwhelmed in September that they’ve reached out to hospitals across the West for help, NBC News reports.

  • “It’s just nonstop trying to find placement for these patients and the care that they need,” said Brian Whitlock, the president and CEO of the Idaho Hospital Association, per NBC News. “It really is a minute-by-minute assessment of where beds are open, and hospitals saying we don’t know where we’re going to put the next one.”

Gov. Little said in a statement that getting vaccinated remained the best way to stop the surge from happening again.

  • “We have reached an unprecedented and unwanted point in the history of our state. We have taken so many steps to avoid getting here, but yet again we need to ask more Idahoans to choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. More Idahoans need to choose to receive the vaccine so we can minimize the spread of the disease and reduce the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, many of which involve younger Idahoans and are preventable with safe and effective vaccines,” he said