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Idaho to open 3 antibody treatment centers

Gov. Brad Little made the announcement Thursday.

BOISE, Idaho — In order to combat Idaho's rising hospitalization numbers, the state will open three antibody treatment centers.

Governor Brad Little made the announcement on Thursday afternoon.

The treatment involves therapeutic medications the governor says are proven to be effective in preventing serious illness of COVID-19.

The hope is the treatment will help preserve Idaho's hospital capacity, which is now near record levels.

"There are too many unvaccinated people in our hospitals right now. We need to reduce the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations so everyone else can continue to access healthcare for strokes, heart attacks, car accidents, and other emergencies. We need more Idahoans to choose to receive the vaccine," Little said.

He stressed that receiving the vaccine is the most effective way to minimize the spread of the disease to the vulnerable and the best way to minimize your own risk of hospitalization from the disease. 

Patients visiting the treatment centers must have a referral from a doctor, but it is free.

The plan is to open one in each section of the state – one in the Treasure Valley, one in North Idaho and one in eastern Idaho.

The centers will help preserve hospital bed capacity for the severely ill.

Specific information about the exact location of the treatment centers will be made available in the coming days. Additional treatment centers may be added later.

North Idaho will be the priority, where vaccination rates are among the lowest in the state and where local hospitals are overwhelmed with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, limiting healthcare access for everyone else.

The new antibody treatment centers come in addition to antibody treatments already provided by hundreds of private healthcare providers across Idaho.

Little said he is directing $10 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to address constraints and emerging needs in Idaho hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. The funds will be used to make more physical space available to provide care for COVID-19 patients, address staffing shortages caused by workers getting sick or being exposed to the disease, and safely transition patients out of hospital settings to free up bed capacity.

"All of our hospitals, large and small, are asking more and more of our staff as our COVID hospitalizations continue to increase," said Dr. Rachel Gonzales, CEO of Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg and chair of the Idaho Hospital Association Board of Directors. "This additional funding will help us recognize them for their heroic efforts and fill in some of the gaps where we are stretched so thin."

Idaho health officials say since the COVID-19 vaccine was made widely available to everyone in May, nearly all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated.

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.

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