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North Idaho hospitals seeing younger people admitted for COVID-19

Panhandle Health officials say the community's refusal to get vaccinated or wear masks is putting more people in the hospital then ever before.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — The number of COVID-19 cases in North Idaho increased 151 over the weekend, but a bigger surge is actually taking place, with younger victims adding to the toll, as reported by KREM 2 news partner the Coeur d'Alene Press

According to Katherine Hoyer, PHD spokeswoman, they're actually seeing about 300 cases a day, but staff can't keep up with the processing. She said Monday about 900 cases are unprocessed.

“Some days we're not able to process all of those due to the backlog of cases that we've been experiencing, but the backlog of cases is really over the course of the last three days,” Hoyer said. “So we do feel like what we're reporting is an accurate assessment of what's really happening in our community.”

Hoyer said without any mitigation steps taken, case numbers are expected to continue upward.

“If our community continues to not mask, to not receive the vaccine, to not do any of the other protective measures that they can take — the physical distancing, washing hands, avoiding large events — if none of that is taken then we expect that we’re going to continue on this path,” Hoyer said. “We're seeing many more people in the hospitals than we ever had before.”

Hoyer said with the Delta variant the surge has been different, with case count date in an almost vertical line upward as compared to the steady upward trend earlier in the year.

“The really concerning piece is that the people who are entering the hospital are younger,” Hoyer said. “The people who are dying are younger.”

According to Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, 93 Idahoans under the age of 50 have died from COVID-19.

The IDHW model predicts 30,000 new cases per week in Idaho by mid-October.

According to IDHW, nine Idahoans in the PHD died from COVID-19 over the weekend, with three deaths in Kootenai County. That brings the death count to 439 in the district — 298 in Kootenai County.

The number of COVID-19 cases at Kootenai Health went down by two patients over the weekend, to 109. However, the number of COVID-19 patients requiring critical care went up by six patients to 43.

Since the beginning of the most recent surge in mid-August, 97% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 at Kootenai Health were unvaccinated.

According to Johns Hopkins University, only 44.79% of Idahoans are vaccinated, one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

Pfizer announced Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine is effective for children as young as 5, and will seek FDA approval by the end of the month.

Kootenai Health reports that it has not admitted any patients for adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines.

The hospital normally has 330 beds operating at 80% capacity.

On Aug. 20, hospital leaders decided to convert the largest conference room into a COVID-19 patient care center accommodating up to 22 patients due to the rapid increase in hospitalization due to COVID-19.

On Sept. 9, a team of 20 health care professionals from the Department of Defense arrived at Kootenai Health to help with COVID-19 patients.

The hospital continues to operate under crisis standards of care, meaning resources are stretched thin and patients can no longer expect the level of care they would receive under normal circumstances.

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our news partner, click here.

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