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Local hospitals remain busy with COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus

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IDAHO FALLS — Local hospitals aren’t slowing down as workers continue to care for patients fighting COVID-19.

Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center has seen an 83% increase in COVID hospitalizations since January 7. With its current inpatient case numbers, EIRMC is managing its patient volume, but spokeswoman Coleen Niemann said “it remains a shift-by-shift assessment as it has since the beginning of the pandemic.”

“We have seen a rise in hospitalizations that parallels the rise in positive case counts in the community,” Niemann told EastIdahoNews.com. “We have seen that rise over the last month.”

Idaho Falls Community Hospital has also noticed an uptick in COVID admissions, although not as severe as in the past. Medical Director of the Hospitalist Program Jared Morton noted that unvaccinated community members continue to be admitted more than vaccinated people.

“If we do admit the vaccinated people, generally, they do better,” Morton said. “There are, of course, some cases that have unfortunate outcomes with it, but their outcomes, if they’re unvaccinated, are generally worse.”

In Rexburg, Madison Memorial Hospital is seeing patients with COVID and the flu. Spokesman Doug McBride said its emergency room is seeing a “very high percentage” of patients with flu-like symptoms. In the last 72 hours (as of Tuesday afternoon), the E.R. had seen 143 patients and 52 of them had influenza-type complaints. Of those, 40 people were tested for the flu, and out of the 40, 50% were positive and four results were pending.

“People are getting this concern as soon as they start getting sick, they immediately run in and get a test to see if they’re COVID positive … when many of those (cases) are like the regular flu,” McBride explained.

He said if a person is sick, they should stay home, isolate and take care of themselves. If a person starts having respiratory symptoms such as difficulty breathing, McBride said that’s when a person “definitely needs to get in” to a hospital.

“Immediately come in, and they can take care of you and then go to those more advanced COVID treatments and infusions and things that may need to take place,” he said. “We don’t want it to get to a point where they’re so sick that they come in – and then it’s a very difficult situation to get them out of that.”

Bingham Memorial spokesman Mark Baker said COVID test positivity rates are greater than 50% right now. He said there has been a large increase in requests for testing at each of their testing locations in Idaho Falls, Shelley, Blackfoot and Pocatello.

However, he also wants to remind the public there is a significant amount of flu going around in addition to the Omicron variant.

“If it were pre-COVID and we were seeing significant community spread of flu, we would recommend getting vaccinated, as it reduces the chance of infection and decreases severity if infected,” Baker said. “Practice good hand-washing hygiene, stay home when sick and wear masks when around vulnerable populations. This was good advice for flu before COVID existed, and it is good risk prevention advice today, as we face both flu and COVID.”

Eastern Idaho Public Health reported reported Tuesday evening that 28 people were hospitalized with COVID in the district.

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