Governor activates National Guard to assist health care and IDOC

By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports

Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced Monday that he again activated the Idaho National Guard to assist with the impact of COVID-19.

A total of 75 guardsmen would be active to assist Primary Health Medical Group facilities and the Idaho Department of Correction, which are experiencing staffing shortages.

The activation comes as three public health districts in Idaho, or 18 southern Idaho counties, remain in crisis standards of care. Crisis standards are activated when there are more people in need of health care than there are resources available to help everyone.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare will host a press conference Tuesday afternoon with the latest information on the pandemic.

Read the full press release from the Governor’s Office below:

Governor Brad Little activated the Idaho National Guard today for the fourth time during the pandemic to alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 in Idaho.

Governor Little activated 75 Idaho National Guardsmen to assist Primary Health and the Idaho Department of Correction, which are experiencing staffing shortages because too many employees are absent from work due to COVID-19.

In addition, Governor Little said he secured 503 additional personnel through a state contract to assist Idaho hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19.

“I am proud of our men and women of the Idaho National Guard who have stepped up time and again to help our state and communities get through an unprecedented, challenging time. The strain on healthcare, schools, business, and government from the spread of COVID-19 is a reminder that we are not out of the pandemic, and we need to be vigilant about keeping ourselves and our loved ones healthy,” Governor Little said.

Governor Little and the State of Idaho have directed the following resources to expand healthcare capacity during the public health crisis:

  • By mobilizing the National Guard, deploying a military medical response team to North Idaho last year, and contracting with the federal government, hundreds of additional personnel were added to assist hospitals and affected entities since the start of the pandemic.
  • $1.8 million to expand the number of monoclonal antibody treatment facilities across the state to provide Idahoans life-saving medications and avoid a trip to the hospital.
  • Cut red tape when temporary licensing fees were waived for retired or inactive nurses so they can activate their licenses and reenter the workforce more easily. This step added more than 1,000 nurses and other health professionals.
  • Total $5.8 million to hospitals to help relieve staffing shortages.
  • Total $5.5 million for primary care and urgent care entities that serve an important role in keeping people from becoming so ill they need to seek medical care at the hospital.
  • Total $8.5 million to preserve hospital capacity by increasing discharges from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities for COVID-19 positive patients.
  • $30 million toward expanded COVID-19 testing in Idaho K-12 schools to minimize virus transmission.

<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, where 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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