COVID-19 hitting area hard, Bonner General reconfiguring to cope

By Mike Weland

Two awful milestones in Montana today as a record 1,660 cases were confirmed in the day ended at 10 o’clock this morning, and the death toll crossed the 500 mark to 514. In North Idaho, Bonner General Hospital has reconfigured to try to cope with the escalating number of cases.

The state, barely touched by mid-summer, has now seen 45,886 cases, with 17,900 active, 435 of them hospitalized this morning.

“More than 500 Montanans have lost their lives due to COVID-19,” Governor Steve Bullock said in a statement today. “Communities across our state are deeply feeling the impact of this virus, now more than we’ve seen before, and families are facing a holiday season without the ones they love most. COVID-19 is projected to be near the top in leading causes of death in Montana this year.

“It is within our power to save lives. If Montanans mask up, follow public health requirements and stay home as much as possible, we can save hundreds of lives. Let’s prove we value the health of our community and our frontline workers who go to work in crowded hospitals day and night to care for us.”

Flathead County climbed 136 new cases on the day, bringing the county total to 4,915, with 1,534 cases active and 27 dead.

Lincoln County climbed by 22 new cases, bringing the total there to 539 cases, with 200 active and six residents dead.

Idaho climbed by 1,519 in he day ended at 5 p.m. Thursday, bringing the total count to 79,798. Three Idahoans died Friday, and no patients died November 7, but the record for single day Idaho COVID-19 deaths spiked after, tying the record of 18 in one day set on October 29 on Wednesday, November 11, and building up to it with six dead November 8, 13 November 9, 16 November 10, 15 November 12, bringing the overall toll in Idaho to 752 by 5 p.m. Friday.

Due to the rapid spike of coronavirus cases, Bonner General Health has moved into contingency mode to help manage the increase in the utilization of resources to care for COVID-19 patients.

“We have seen the number of total positive tests double in the last few weeks, and the pandemic is slated only to get worse,” said emergency department physician Dr. Stacy Good.

In North Idaho, Boundary County has seen 286 total COVID-19 cases, 147 active, Bonner county 706 cases, 225 active, Kootenai County 5,721 cases, 1,918 active, Shoshone County 375 cases, 109 active, and Benewah County 219, 46 active.

North Idaho has lost 88 residents to COVID-19.

A 25-bed critical access hospital, Bonner General has sequestered five of its medical/surgical rooms into a pod for COVID positive patients and three rooms in the critical care unit.

COVID patients require a degree of isolation to protect the staff and other patients and require significant utilization of healthcare resources.

Bonner General Health and regional hospitals are reaching or at capacity, limiting the ability to transfer patients requiring a higher level of care. The rise in COVID-19 transmission has created other issues, including delays in COVID-19 test result notification and contact tracing.

If the spread of the virus continues to increase in Bonner and Boundary counties, they will not be able to care for those who are acutely ill without postponing essential but less urgent care. Administrators anticipate this kind of shift could happen in a matter of weeks if trends do not change.

“Our commitment remains to continue to provide services that are the best for our community, and we thank our employees, community providers, and partners during these unprecedented times,” they said. “Two things that have been consistent during the pandemic are COVID-19 is ever-changing, as will our processes dependent on the need, and secondly, our shared commitment to the health and safety of Bonner County.”

More than ever, they insist, the community needs to be diligent and follow the recommended health guidelines to decrease the spread of COVID-19 in support of the local business economy, school districts, the healthcare community, friends, family and neighbors.

Panhandle Health COVID-19 county business/school risk level as of Thursday, November 11.

Nationwide, a two day spike accounted for 375,806 cases, with a new record of 194,610 cases Thursday and 181,196 new cases Friday, breaking the previous record of 142,860 set November 11. The daily U.S. death count to COVID-19 is starting to trend upwards as well, with 1,389 American dying November 13, 1,172 Thursday, 1,431 Wednesday and 1,465 Tuesday.

That puts the total U.S. COVID-19 count at 10,877,379 as of 3:26 p.m. Eastern today, with 245,519 Americans dead … 80,782 corpses ahead of Number 2 Brazil, which has lost 164,737 citizens.