Rise refused to be vaccinated even though the virus rose in her town, Coeur d’Alene. And even though her mother was in a coma in a hospital bed fighting for her life against Covid, Natalie advised her family against getting vaccinated.
“She told me not to get vaccinated,” Daryl Rise told CNN. “I think it was from misinformation, I think it fell in negative social media and bloggers, YouTubers.”
“This is serious; your ability to receive care in a hospital is likely to be affected,” the Idaho Department of Health explained the measure on its website. “It may look very different from how you have received care in the past. Operations are postponed, emergency rooms are full, and there may not be beds for patients to be hospitalized.”
Misinformation and misinformation on social media
But there is not much alternative, Idaho providers say. Hospitals are converting teaching rooms and conference rooms into hospital care, and there are patients in the corridors.
“We’re in the worst condition we’ve ever been in a pandemic, this increase has been groundbreaking for our health facilities,” said Katherine Hoyer, a spokeswoman for the Panhandle Health District, which covers five northern counties in Idaho. “Our caseworkers, they can not keep up.”
She explained that the hospitals are full of people who have not been vaccinated. “It has been like a tsunami wave that continues to hit us every day,” Hoyer said.
As for the cause of the vaccine will in Idaho, Hoyer blamed misinformation and misinformation. “Social media makes it so easy to spread information quickly that may seem like a fact, and it’s not. I wish people would listen to credible sources,” she said.
The tsunami has washed into Spokane. “We are dropping about half of our patients at this point because of capacity, and we have done many things to try to increase capacity,” said Daniel Getz, chief physician at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Holy Family Hospital in Spokane.
“Historically, we are reasonably able to accept 90% of transfer requests from our communities to bring patients in,” Getz said. “We have struggled over the last two weeks to receive half of these patients.”
The hospital is opening another ICU in the postoperative recovery area, he said, but it is not inconceivable that it should also be rationed.
“If we get to the point where we saturate our ability to provide care, then we are in the incredibly difficult position,” Getz said. “And it’s a tragic decision to make. You’re now trying to triage patients. You have more sick patients. You’re trying to determine which of these patients are not receiving life-saving care.”
Getz quickly points out that there are pockets of unvaccinated people in eastern Washington that are contributing to the crisis. And the vast majority of needy medical facilities in both Washington and Idaho have not been vaccinated, health officials said.
“The vast majority of patients who are in the hospital for Covid right now are unvaccinated, especially the patients who are in our ICU on ventilators,” Getz said.
Patients who cannot immediately receive the care they need take it “terribly and rightly,” Getz said. “At the end of the day, we delay their care.”
As for the Rise family, Natalie’s death has increased the family. Daryl has given up his job as a truck driver to help care for the 10-year-old twins his sister left behind, he said.
His and Natalie’s mother, who is still recovering from Covid-19, is still on the verge of being vaccinated, he said.
But Daryl got his first shot the day after his sister died.
“It was the hardest decision of my life, you know, do I do right by God? Do I do right by Natalie?” he said. “And I got it out of fear.”