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Virus updates: Idaho expands rationing statewide as hospitalizations surge; FDA preps for booster debate
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Virus updates: Idaho expands rationing statewide as hospitalizations surge; FDA preps for booster debate

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Virus Outbreak Idaho

In this Sept. 10, 2021 file photo an emergency department sign is photographed at Kootenai Health, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. 

Idaho rations health care statewide as COVID surge drags on

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho public health leaders on Thursday expanded health care rationing statewide amid a massive increase in the number of coronavirus patients requiring hospitalization.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare made the announcement after St. Luke's Health System, Idaho's largest hospital network, on Wednesday asked state health leaders to allow "crisis standards of care" because the increase in COVID-19 patients has exhausted the state's medical resources.

Idaho is one of the least vaccinated U.S. states, with only about 40% of its residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Only Wyoming and West Virginia have lower vaccination rates.

Crisis care standards mean that scarce resources like ICU beds will be allotted to the patients most likely to survive. Other patients will be treated with less effective methods or, in dire cases, given pain relief and other palliative care.

Thursday's move came a week after Idaho officials started allowing health care rationing at hospitals in northern parts of the state.

"The situation is dire – we don't have enough resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals, whether you are there for COVID-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident," Idaho Department of Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said in statement. Read the full story here:

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FDA strikes cautious tone ahead of vaccine booster meeting

WASHINGTON (AP) — Influential government advisers will debate Friday if there's enough proof that a booster dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective — the first step toward deciding which Americans need one and when.

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday posted much of the evidence its advisory panel will consider. The agency struck a decidedly neutral tone on the rationale for boosters — an unusual and careful approach that's all the more striking after President Joe Biden and his top health advisers trumpeted a booster campaign they hoped to begin next week.

Pfizer’s argument: While protection against severe disease is holding strong in the U.S., immunity against milder infection wanes somewhere around six to eight months after the second dose. The company gave an extra dose to 306 people at that point and recorded levels of virus-fighting antibodies threefold higher than after the earlier shots.

More important, Pfizer said, those antibodies appear strong enough to handle the extra-contagious delta variant that is surging around the country. Read the full story here:

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IN OTHER COVID-19 NEWS:

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