Idaho Gov. Brad Little calls up Idaho National Guard to help with COVID. Again.

This is the fourth time Little has activated guardsmen to help with pandemic response.

By: - January 31, 2022 12:20 pm
Gov. Brad Little

Gov. Brad Little walks down the stairs of the Idaho State Capitol after delivering the annual State of the State address on Jan. 10, 2022. (Brian Myrick/Idaho Press)

Idaho Gov. Brad Little has activated the Idaho National Guard for the fourth time to help Idaho health care providers contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, his office announced Monday.

The governor activated 75 Idaho National Guardsmen to assist Primary Health Medical Group — one of Idaho’s largest urgent care providers — and the Idaho Department of Correction. Primary Health and IDOC have staffing shortages because employees are out of work due to COVID-19, the announcement said.

Primary Health has been forced to limit hours and temporarily close clinics during COVID-19 surges. The organization is one of the largest providers of coronavirus testing in southwest Idaho, where case numbers have skyrocketed since the end of December.

“We can’t thank Governor Little enough for activating the Idaho National Guard to help support our clinics,” said Primary Health CEO Dr. David Peterman.

The guardsmen will not only help Primary Health test and treat more COVID-19 patients, they will help Primary Health continue to provide routine and primary care for non-COVID patients, Peterman said. He told the Sun that, while other states have activated National Guard to help in hospitals, Idaho’s mission is more comprehensive.

“Governor Little is unique in understanding how COVID impacts primary care services,” Peterman said. “The health of a community as a whole is in danger when resources are lacking and must all be directed toward COVID efforts.”

In addition, Little’s office says Idaho will receive 503 more personnel through a state contract to help staff Idaho hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19.

“I am proud of our men and women of the Idaho National Guard who have stepped up time and again to help our state and communities get through an unprecedented, challenging time,” Little said in the news release. “The strain on health care, schools, business and government from the spread of COVID-19 is a reminder that we are not out of the pandemic, and we need to be vigilant about keeping ourselves and our loved ones healthy.”

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Audrey Dutton
Audrey Dutton

Audrey Dutton was a senior investigative reporter with the Idaho Capital Sun after 10 years at the Idaho Statesman. Her favorite topics to cover included health care, business, consumer protection issues and white collar crime. Before coming home to Idaho, Dutton worked as a journalist in Minnesota, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Dutton's work has earned dozens of state, regional and national awards for investigative reporting, health care and business reporting, data visualization and more.