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All of North Idaho has a maximum of 36 ICU beds for critically ill patients

While there is a hospital in every county in the Idaho Panhandle, only two hospitals can help care for critical ill coronavirus patients.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Only two hospitals in North Idaho have Intensive Care Unit beds, according to the Panhandle Health District.

Panhandle Health District Spokesperson Katherine Hoyer said Bonner General and Kootenai Health are the only two hospitals with ICU beds out of five counties that the health district serves. Hoyer said Kootenai Health has between 26 and 32 ICU beds, while Bonner General has four. This means, at maximum, all of North Idaho has 36 ICU beds.

Bonner and Kootenai Counties are the two hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. As of Wednesday, Oct. 21, Kootenai County had 3,628 cases and Bonner County had 458 cases.   

While there is a hospital in every county in the Panhandle, Bonner General and Kootenai Health are the only ones able to care for critically ill coronavirus patients. As of Thursday, Oct. 22 at 8 a.m., Kootenai Health is caring for 27 COVID-19 patients and 11 of those require critical care.  

Hoyer said Benewah Community Hospital, Boundary Community Hospital and Shoshone Medical Center can see coronavirus patients but they can only help those patients to a certain point. If they are critically ill, they will need to go to a hospital with an ICU.

Coronavirus patients aren’t the only ones occupying ICU beds. People who have suffered injuries and other illnesses need them, too. Hoyer said hospitals have only seen a couple flu patients so far this season.

Coronavirus positivity rates and daily case numbers in North Idaho are the highest they’ve been since the pandemic began, Hoyer said. On Tuesday, Oct. 22, the Panhandle Health District reported a record 141 daily coronavirus cases. 

Hoyer said these cases aren’t being link to any specific place or event, adding that cooler weather might be enticing people to be out and about more. She also understands that people might be tired of following the COVID-19 restrictions.

Hoyer said now is not the time to waver from the protocols. She said people should continue to social distance, wear a mask, wash their hands and avoid large crowds.