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Health board warned to expect medical crisis

Dr. Kenneth Krell
Dr. Kenneth Krell talks to EIPH Board via Zoom

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - An Idaho Falls emergency room doctor brought a direct message to the Eastern Idaho Public Health Board Thursday.

Dr. Kenneth Krell warned the board that the local health care system has reached its breaking point due to the spread of COVID-19. "We are in a crisis none of us have ever seen," he said.

Krell said he thinks EIRMC is now effectively rationing care. The hospital recently had to open its radiology department to house COVID-19 patients.

He appealed to the Health Board to put teeth into its orders before hospitals are completely overrun.

He believes the board has authority to enforce its directives, stating, "law enforcement agencies don't get to decide what laws are passed or what laws are enforced. You must act. To do less would be an abrogation of your responsibility," he added.

Dr. Krell warned the board, "we must stop listening to the delusional fringe."

Specifically, he called for enforcement of mask requirements, limitations on the size of gatherings, and the closing of non-essential businesses, including bars and restaurants.

The board plans to meet with legal counsel at its next meeting. But, EIPH Director Geri Rackow said the health district does not appear to have any ability to close a business or restaurant that may be in violation of health directives beyond those it already oversees.

However, EIPH Board members speculated that individual cities may have authority to enact and enforce "infractions" since prosecutors appear to be reluctant to tie up the courts with misdemeanor cases.

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