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Local hospitals still pinched by COVID-19

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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)-The Eastern Idaho Public Health Board learned Thursday, that the spread of COVID-19 differed considerably throughout the region over the past week.   The district saw a record 312 new cases on Wednesday alone.

Teton Valley Health in Driggs and Steele Memorial in Salmon both reported no COVID-19 cases as of Thursday morning.  

In Salmon, which was in a much different situation 4 weeks ago, officials believe people are beginning to take the virus more seriously because there have been so many deaths in the community, including a number of prominent citizens.  As a result of the improvement, Lemhi County was eligible to move down to a minimal risk category.  However, County Commissioner Ken Miner requested and the board directed, a higher risk category remain in effect through Christmas.

 In Driggs, officials believe the difference has been aggressive communication of prevention recommendations, including face masks, personal distancing, and handwashing.  

But, the situation was much different in Idaho Falls.  Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center reported 37 patients are under precautionary care.  The real toll has been in the number of COVID-19 related deaths.  There have been 10 at EIRMC since December 2.  That has taken a heavy emotional and physical toll on hospital staff and staffing remains one of the hospital’s biggest challenges.

Idaho Falls Community Hospital reported it cannot accept any hospitalization requests from other facilities and had to turn three away since last week.  Ten patients are in the IFCH intensive care unit and nine are intubated.  That is the total number of ventilators available to the hospital.   Officials say they’ve ordered 4 more and expect to have 2 delivered this week.  

The board also heard that hospitals in Twin Falls and Boise area have no additional capacity for eastern Idaho patients.

If approved by FDA, Initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine may arrive in Idaho Falls as early as Monday.

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