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Idaho Gov. Brad Little. Photo: Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Tuesday announced he is reactivating the National Guard and directing up to 370 additional people to help hospitals as they reach capacity.

Why it matters: There were only four intensive care unit beds available Tuesday in the entire state, out of nearly 400, the Republican governor wrote in a news release. There are more COVID-19 patients in ICU beds in the state "than ever before. The vast majority of them are unvaccinated," the release states.

  • "Where hospitals have converted other spaces to be used as contingency ICU beds, those are filling up too," Little added.

What he's saying: "We are dangerously close to activating statewide crisis standards of care — a historic step that means Idahoans in need of health care could receive a lesser standard of care or may be turned away altogether," Little said.

  • "In essence, someone would have to decide who can be treated and who cannot. This affects all of us, not just patients with COVID-19."

Details: Up to 150 guardsmen will support short-staffed health facilities and will handle procedures like screenings, lab work and more.

  • The U.S. General Services Administration will send in 200 additional medical and administrative personnel.
  • A 20-person medical response team from the Department of Defense will be deployed to North Idaho, where vaccination rates are low.

By the numbers: Idaho has reported a total of 221,389 coronavirus cases and 2,363 confirmed deaths, according to government data.

  • Cases have been surging since early July.

Go deeper

Oct 16, 2021 - Health

Pope Francis calls on companies to release COVID vaccine patents

Pope Francis. Photo: Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pope Francis called on pharmaceutical companies on Saturday to release patents to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to the poor, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: There is a stark divide between countries that have access to COVID-19 shots and those that don't, and the gap has widened as some wealthier countries have begun distributing third doses.

Oct 17, 2021 - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.

20 hours ago - Health

Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, in an "Axios on HBO" interview, said he's reluctant to withhold federal funding from states that won't enforce school mask mandates because he doesn't want to hurt students.

Why it matters: Cardona's comments suggest there are limits to how far the Biden administration will go in pressuring states to adopt universal masking — or vaccine mandates.