Cases continue to rise in North Idaho and strain local hospitals.

As Kootenai Health reaches near capacity, they said they haven't had to transfer anyone yet.

 But, they did say that some non COVID-19 patients in North Idaho had to go a hospital in Spokane last week to get care, because of capacity issues.

Spokane Regional Health Officer, Dr. Bob Lutz, says he thinks that Spokane hospitals could handle the impact of North Idaho residents needing care for now.

But Lutz said that hospital capacity is fluid situation.

They cant just look at how many empty beds they have, they also have to consider staffing.

“That is where the concern lies, you have capacity potential but you don't have the staff to support those beds, then that capacity metric is moved,“ said Lutz.

Katherine Hoyer with the Panhandle Health District is hoping that this overflow is a wake-up call for the community she serves.

“I think its easy to let your guard down, we have been at this for months now, and that has been tough for people,“ said Hoyer. “But, now is not the time to let your guard down we need to stick with the guidance.”

Data from the Panhandle Health District shows the spike of cases around the 22nd of October.

Which is when the Coeur d’Alene City Council started to consider the now approved mask mandate.

And while there's been a slight decline in cases since then, it could be days or even a week before we know if there's been a corresponding drop in covid hospitalizations.

Which can lag by as much as two weeks, which is the time it takes to tell if symptoms will get more severe.

So until we know for sure, Washington Governor Jay Inslee has this 'friendly' warning:

“I’m very hopeful that Idaho will join us on being responsible about this fatal disease,” said Inslee.  “We will continue to help them in our hospitals, their losses are ours, but we sure could use some help.”