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Doctors Who Wrote Idaho’s Plan To Ration Care Ask Gov. Little For Mask Mandate To Avoid 'Disaster'


Medical providers who sit on the committee that wrote Idaho’s framework to ration medical care if it becomes necessary are asking Gov. Brad Little for a statewide mask mandate. 

Eleven providers, who work at facilities including Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, the Boise VA Medical Center, Kootenai Health, St. Luke’s Health System and Saint Alphonsus Health System, signed a letter on Tuesday to Gov. Little. The letter was first reported by the Post Register.

The signees are among the “external partners” on the State of Idaho Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SIDMAC) – the committee charged with writing Idaho’s Crisis Standards of Care guidelines and asking Gov. Little to implement the crisis plan if it deems it necessary. 

The guidelines help hospitals and providers by giving them criteria to prioritize medical care, such as the allocation of ventilators and ICU beds, when resources are scarce.

“We hoped implementation of these standards would never be necessary,” the health leaders wrote to Little, “but as you are aware, the state’s recent increase in Covid-19 cases and attendant increase in hospitalizations have brought us very close to meeting the guidelines for crisis implementation.”

The doctors said hospitals statewide are overwhelmed – in northern Idaho, eastern Idaho, the Magic Valley and the Treasure Valley – but they called out northern Idaho as a region that is particularly close to the trigger point for needing to ration care. 

“We therefore are writing to implore you to help us avoid a full statewide crisis,” they wrote, “and require a statewide mask mandate,” citing it and other social distancing measures as “the only hope of avoiding disaster.”

This is not the first time a group of Idaho health leaders has called on Little to institute a statewide mask mandate. Following these requests, Little has continued to ask Idahoans to take personal responsibility by wearing face masks. His office has said he hasn’t ruled out statewide actions, but he has said several times that he sees mandates as local issues to be carried out by local leaders.

In the letter written on Tuesday, the physicians said COVID-19 is a statewide crisis that requires a statewide response. 

“Without that action we fear the nightmare scenery we have had to design in our crisis plan will come to fruition.”



Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen 

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