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Viewpoint: Idaho Rep. Simpson discusses the big issues of the day

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson weighs in on the dire COVID-19 situation, resettling Afghan refugees in Idaho, infrastructure funding, saving salmon and more.

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) activated crisis standards of care for the entire state on Sept. 16. It comes as hospitals and intensive care units around the state are filling up with very sick people fighting COVID-19. 

Crisis standards of care mean that hospital beds, ventilators, medicine and other health care supplies may be rationed or denied for those who are not as sick as others.

Health care leaders say 95% of people in hospitals with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. The state reports that nearly 51% of eligible Idahoans are now fully vaccinated.

On this week's Viewpoint, Doug Petcash talked with Idaho Republican U.S. Representative Mike Simpson about the COVID-19 situation in the Gem State.

Doug Petcash: Seeing all this unfold, how concerned are you about the overall COVID situation here?

Rep. Mike Simpson: I'm concerned about it. The growth we've had in Idaho of COVID is dramatic. When you institute these crisis care standards it affects all of us, not just those people with COVID. Because if you need some surgery of something like that, you might not be able to get into the hospital to get that done. So, it is a concern to all us, and we're trying to do what we can in Washington to make sure that hospitals have the resources that they need to deal with it.

Doug Petcash: The Biden Administration announced a vaccination mandate for all federal workers and companies with more than 100 employees. What's your Viewpoint on that move?

Rep. Simpson: I'm opposed to a mandate for vaccines. I don't think you can mandate that someone inject something into their body. I think it's smart to get a vaccine. I've had a vaccine. I'm going to get a booster when I go back to Washington. I just think it's the smart thing to do. But that's my opinion. Other people have a different opinion, and they have a right to that opinion. I don't think the government should be mandating that you have to have a vaccine if you're an employer with over 100 employees. That's something that a company can make a determination of, but not the federal government mandating it, and the same with federal employees. We're going to have some people who just decide not to go back to work because they don't want the vaccine, for whatever reason.

Representative Simpson also gave his viewpoint on the resettlement of Afghan refugees in Idaho, Western wildfires and drought, the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and his plan to save endangered salmon by removing four Lower Snake River dams.

Viewpoint airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on KTVB right after Meet the Press.

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