U.S. coronavirus: Idaho funeral homes run out of space due to Covid-19 outbreak, coroner says
“We are working nonstop. We are exhausted. We are frustrated.â¦ Funeral homes have no more storage. Our hospitals no longer have storage. It’s just become a hell of a mess,” Dotti Owens, coroner of the Ada County, Idaho, told CNN on Saturday.
The county purchased a mass death trailer late last year to accommodate more bodies, and which has also become near full in recent weeks, Owens explained. âNow we’re packing them in there. Our internal cooler is full,â she said.
Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the United States, with 41.3% of its residents fully vaccinated on Saturday, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The only two states that are least successful at fully immunizing their residents are West Virginia (40.3%) and Wyoming (41.%).
As Idaho grapples with a low vaccination rate and rising death toll from Covid-19, some funeral homes are experiencing capacity issues.
âOur refrigeration facility here in Cloverdale is large and full,â Salove told the outlet.
Salove said part of the problem is that many of the victims’ family members are also sick with Covid-19, which means the bodies must be stored until they recover from the illness and can attend a funeral service.
Summers Funeral Home, also in Ada County, told KIVI it is working on expanding capacity in case deaths continue to rise.
âRight now everything is fine. But if this continues we will have to make arrangements, and we are in the process of doing so now,â said Ken Pearce, Idaho home market leader.
States grapple with staff shortages
As hospitals and funeral homes struggle to keep up with the impact of Covid-19 in Idaho, a school district has temporarily closed its doors after some staff and students tested positive for the virus.
The Filer School District (FSD) closed on Friday due to “excessive staff absences and a shortage of substitute teachers,” district officials said in a Facebook post. Students will not learn remotely during the short recess, which ends on October 4.
“It is difficult to say whether the absences and shortages were caused by Covid-19,” FSD Superintendent Kelli Schroeder told CNN in an email. âThere are several other staff members who are absent due to illness or other reasons,â Schroeder said.
The district’s Covid-19 dashboard shows that 11 school staff and 56 students have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the school year on September 7.
A combination of absences among teachers, kitchen staff, guards and other workers as well as a lack of substitute teachers complicate the functioning of the district, Schroeder said.
Meanwhile, Alaska is asking for additional medical personnel to be deployed there to help manage Covid-19 cases. The state is looking for 297 registered nurses, 114 licensed practical nurses, and various other technicians and therapists to help hospitals with staffing and near-capacity issues. The effort will likely cost the state nearly $ 1 million per day, which will be reimbursed by the federal government, officials said.
The new resources come as the state allowed hospitals to enter crisis care standards, allowing facilities to act “in good faith” to ration resources when they are overwhelmed by patients.
Leaders launch vaccination incentive programs
In an effort to improve the pace of vaccination in the United States, state and local leaders are trying to motivate people by providing them with certain benefits.
In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine started the “Vax to School” program, which allows eligible residents between the ages of 12 and 25 to enter with proof of vaccination. The program will offer five scholarships valued at $ 1,000 and 50 scholarships valued at $ 10,000. All scholarship money can be used for any type of education or vocational training chosen by the winner.
When announcing the program, DeWine highlighted an “alarming trend” of Covid-19 cases among young people in the state, including 42,000 cases in children aged 5 to 17 since starting school on August 15. .
âVaccinations remain our ticket out of this pandemic, vaccinations are the way to keep our hospitals from being overcrowded,â DeWine said.
In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot this week announced a new vaccination campaign aimed at vaccinating 77% of all eligible Chicagoans. So far, 72.4% of all eligible residents have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, she said.
Lightfoot stressed the importance of vaccination, saying that for unvaccinated black and Latin people between the ages of 15 and 60, their probability of death from Covid-19 is 50%.
âI don’t want people to play with their lives,â Lightfoot said at a press conference.
CNN’s Maggie Fox, Melissa Alonso, Jenn Selva, Andy Rose and Carma Hassan contributed to this report.