FILE – In this Aug. 31, 2021, file photo, a registered nurse holds the hand of a COVID-19 patient in the Medical Intensive care unit (MICU) at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. An advocacy group for seniors has filed a civil rights complaint against Idaho over the state’s “crisis standards of care” guidelines for hospitals overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic. Justice in Aging wants the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to investigate Idaho’s health care rationing plan, contending that it discriminates against older adults by using factors like age in prioritizing which patients may get access to life-saving care. (AP Photo/Kyle Green, File)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The state’s top health official on Monday deactivated crisis standards of care except for northern Idaho.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen issued the decision after health officials said the number of COVID-19 patients remains high but no longer exceeds healthcare resources in most areas.

Crisis standards of care give legal and ethical guidelines to health care providers when they have too many patients and not enough resources to care for them all. They spell out exactly how health care should be rationed in order to save the most lives possible during a disaster.

Idaho initially activated the crisis standards for northern Idaho on Sept. 7, and statewide on Sept. 16.

Jeppesen convened the Crisis Standards of Care Activation Advisory Committee on Friday to review the situation, the agency said.

The committee determined that most healthcare systems could move back to contingency operations.

The agency said the deactivation process began when healthcare systems started individually reporting they had moved to contingency operations instead of crisis standards.

Nearly 4,000 Idaho residents have died due to COVID-19 since the pandemic entered the state in the spring of 2020, state officials report.

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