Washington governor to Idaho officials: Stop 'clogging up my hospitals'

Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeWashington state ferry system scaling back services amid staffing shortages Newsom signs bill requiring California public schools to provide menstrual products Washington state agencies sending separation notices to employees over vaccine mandate MORE (D) criticized neighboring Idaho’s leadership late last week, saying that Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s (R) policies were “clogging up” Washington’s hospitals. 

“Today in my state, Washington citizens in many cases cannot get heart surgery, cannot get cancer surgery that they need, because we are having to take too many people of unvaccinated nature and unmasked, many of whom come from Idaho, and that’s just maddening frankly,” Inslee said in an MSNBC appearance on Friday.

“So we are calling for Idaho and the leaders there to lead and take some commonsense measures,” Inslee continued. “I’m disappointed the governor of Idaho has spent more time trying to reduce protection by reducing vaccine usage instead of concentrating on this, and then clogging up my hospitals.” 

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Data shows hospital beds were at 77 percent capacity in Washington last week. 

Although Inslee has issued mask mandates in particular situations, Little has yet to unveil such requirements. But Inslee pointed to a broader political issue, noting in his interview that “it’s not just Idaho.” Instead, Inslee criticized the whole of the GOP. 

“Unfortunately, that entire party, the other party, is not helping out, pulling on the rope here. Many states are in the same position and many governors will experience the same frustration I have. So it’s time for people to start pulling on the rope and do an American duty. Get vaccinated, have useful use of masks where appropriate. If we do these things, we know we can best this pandemic.”

Little hit back at Inslee’s comments in a Twitter post on Tuesday, saying, “Spokane County and the surrounding area on his side of the border continue to be hot spots for virus activity with the lowest vaccination rates in Washington,” despite mask mandates. 

Idaho has reported more than 1,800 new COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths in the past day, Johns Hopkins coronavirus data shows. Likewise, data shows that approximately 95 percent of intensive care unit beds across the state are filled. Meanwhile, slightly less than 45 percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated. 

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“The numbers continue to increase, and we expect them to continue to increase,” Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. 

Idaho implemented its Crisis Standards of Care late last week, which permits hospitals to prioritize care for patients with higher chances of recovery, although the state said not every hospital would need to ration care. 

"Someone who is otherwise healthy and would recover more rapidly may get treated or have access to a ventilator before someone who is not likely to recover," the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said in a statement.

The Idaho governor added on Tuesday that an additional $10 million in relief funds will go toward Idaho hospitals, primary care providers, urgent care clinics and skilled nursing facilities amid the latest coronavirus surge. 

“This latest round of support will help ease the burden on our hospitals and health care heroes right now,” Little said in a statement. 

Nearly all recent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have occurred among the unvaccinated, the governor's statement added.