Idaho’s coronavirus surge overwhelms primary care clinics

FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2020, file photo, Idaho Gov. Brad Little wears a protective mask printed with his state's flag in Boise, Idaho, before announcing a COVID reopening plan. Earlier this week, Little again urged Idahoans to wear masks, wash hands and practice social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But he has declined to issue a statewide mask mandate, instead leaving the decision up to regional health districts. (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman via AP, File)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A health care executive says Idaho’s unchecked spread of the coronavirus has become so overwhelming in some areas that medical providers are struggling to answer phone calls from would-be patients.

Dr. David Peterman, CEO of Primary Health Medical Group, said Wednesday the company’s 20 clinics in southwestern Idaho normally get about 1,800 phone calls a day. Now they are getting 3,000 and dealing with dozens of staffers out sick.

Peterman says that means they might miss calls from parents of children with ear infections or patients with questions about their blood pressure medication.

So far more than 75,400 Idaho residents have been infected with the virus and more than 700 have died.

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