Hospitals are expensive places, and some of the most valuable real estate inside a hospital is a bed. Of course, those beds come with a lot of extras — such as skilled nurses and physicians, modern pharmaceuticals and high-tech medical equipment.

Hospital beds can hold all sorts of patients, ranging from children involved in ATV accidents, to parents who’ve been thrown from a horse, to grandparents who’ve suffered a heart attack. Unfortunately, hospital beds are in short supply because many are filled with people suffering from COVID-19.

Though effective vaccines are available, many hospitals — particularly in Idaho — are full of people who could’ve gotten the vaccine, but didn’t. Then they got COVID and scurried to the hospital.

It’s pretty selfish.

When a hospital is clogged with unvaccinated COVID victims, it’s tough luck for the schmucks who need malignant tumors removed. Or those with pneumonia. They’ll just have to wait, because anti-vaxxers are hogging the beds.

Do you think this is fake news? If so, you need to set the conspiracy theories aside and wake up to reality.

Two weeks ago, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare activated Crisis Standards of Care for all hospitals in the state. In its announcement, the agency noted “surgeries are being postponed, emergency departments are full, and there may not be any beds for patients to be admitted to the hospital.”

That’s a fact.

“Idaho is having a viral tsunami at the moment,” Robert Kim-Farley, an infectious disease expert at UCLA, told the Washington Post last week. “I anticipate that we’ll see even more deaths coming in the near future because of the fact that cases are still increasing. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Dave Salove, managing partner of the Cloverdale Funeral Home in Boise, has seen the COVID tsunami firsthand. His 16-slot morgue is full, so he recently brought in a 53-foot refrigerated semi-truck trailer to store dead bodies, the Post reported. At the rate things are going, those bodies could be on ice for a while.

“We’re so far behind on cremations,” Lance Cox, owner of Bell Tower Funeral Home in Post Falls, told the Post. “That’s really how it impacts families the most. You can bring in backup refrigeration options in an emergency, but you can’t bring in a backup crematory.”

Keep in mind, those COVID victims died horrible deaths — gasping for air like they were drowning on dry land.

Overflowing morgues. Backed-up crematoria. Are these funeral home owners lying? Is this just fake news?

No, it’s a fact — and it’s so avoidable.

C’mon folks, if you’re over the age of 12 and still aren’t vaccinated, it’s time to get the shot. Not only is the vaccine free but, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccinated people are a full order of magnitude less likely to suffer serious illness or death from COVID-19 than those who are unvaccinated.

Think of yourself first and get the shot. In so doing, you’ll boost herd immunity for society at large.

OK, I’ll be the first to concede this pandemic is getting old. It has been a fact of life for more than a year and a half and everybody is tired of it. But nobody gets credit for time served because the delta variant is even more pernicious than the original strain of coronavirus.

Bottom line: The pandemic is as bad now, if not worse, than it’s ever been.

We’re not going to mask our way out of this health emergency, nor will we social-distance our way out of it, either. The solution is to raise herd immunity to the point where COVID can’t spread effectively.

Until then, the dogged obstinance of anti-vaxxers is a kick in the guts to medical professionals who are weary and dispirited. They had high hopes when the vaccines rolled out earlier this year and, for a while, it looked like the “Greatest Country on Earth” might just turn the corner.All that momentum was stalled by anti-vaxxers who thought they knew better, but didn’t.

If you’re still unvaccinated, it’s time to use your big human brain and get the shot. Base your family’s health decisions on data, science and reality.

Brock grew up elsewhere, but he has lived on the Palouse for 20 years. He has been a Daily News columnist since 2002.

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