Northern Idaho deactivates crisis care standards due to COVID-19

By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports 

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare deactivated Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) in the Panhandle Health District on Monday, leaving the entire state out of the crisis care standard.

The other six health districts deactivated crisis care standards on Nov. 22. Crisis care standards are used when there are more people in need of health care than there are resources available to help everyone. 

Statewide crisis care standards were activated in September, when hospitalizations for COVID-19 reached a high. 

“While this is good news for Idaho, we’re still watching the Omicron variant very closely because this is a precarious time,” said DHW Director Dave Jeppesen in a news release. “Omicron seems to spread more easily between people, and we all need to keep taking precautions against COVID-19 by getting vaccinated or getting a booster dose, wearing masks in crowded areas, physically distancing from others, washing our hands frequently, and staying home if we’re sick to avoid overwhelming our healthcare systems again.”  

On Thursday, Health and Welfare reported that the COVID-19 test positivity rate statewide had dropped to 6.5%. That’s still above the goal of keeping it below 5%, but lower than the rate has been since August. 

The situation at each healthcare system remains fluid and variable. Hospitals are still experiencing a much higher than normal number of patients and will implement their plans to return to a usual standard of operations according to their own policies, according to Health and Welfare.

As of Saturday, 4,068 people have died in Idaho due to COVID-19-related causes.

Deactivation process

The process to deactivate crisis standards of care in the Panhandle Health District began when healthcare systems located there reported they had moved to contingency operations instead of operating under CSC conditions.

Jeppesen convened the Crisis Standards of Care Activation Advisory Committee on Friday to review the situation at healthcare facilities in the Panhandle Health District. The committee determined that healthcare systems in the Panhandle Health District had moved back to contingency operations. The committee recommended to the director that crisis standards of care be deactivated in the Panhandle Health District.

Director Jeppesen issued his decision this morning, on Dec. 20. Learn more about crisis standards of care, including an FAQ and the official declaration of deactivation, at https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/idaho-resources/


<strong>Ruth Brown</strong> | Producer
Ruth Brown | Producer

Ruth Brown grew up in South Dakota and her first job out of college was covering the South Dakota Legislature. She’s since moved on to Idaho lawmakers. Brown spent 10 years working in print journalism, including newspapers such as the Idaho Statesman and Idaho Press, as well as a paper in southern California. She’s covered everything from the correctional system to health care issues. She joined Idaho Reports in 2021 and looks forward to telling stories about how state policy can impact the lives of regular Idahoans.

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