Roughly 7 percent of Idahoans have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past nine months, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare director Dave Jeppesen said during a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday.
As of Tuesday morning, the state reported 130,877 confirmed and positive cases of COVID-19 and 1,301 deaths.
As case numbers rose across the state in November, Gov. Brad Little moved Idaho from stage three to a more restrictive stage two of the state’s coronavirus response protocol, limiting the size of public gatherings to 10 people. (That has proven contentious in the world of youth sports. Parents and education leaders have asked Little to consider lifting a 10-spectator limit for student athletic events. Little has not decided on the request.)
The state will remain in stage two for now.
“We’re trying to keep schools open, we’re trying to keep businesses open and we’re trying to keep people safe,” Little said during Tuesday’s AARP Idaho town hall. “Until we get our numbers down, stage two is where we’re going to reside for a while.”
Questions at Little’s 29th AARP town hall largely revolved around access to vaccines. Multiple people asked state leaders when teachers can expect to get vaccinated.
Idaho is vaccinating essential workers and vulnerable populations in groups. Currently the vaccines are rolling out to folks in category 1-A: Health-care workers and long-term care residents. Jeppesen said about 130,000 people fall in this first category.
Pre-K through 12th-grade teachers are expected to receive vaccines in the next category, 1-B. But the timeframe is still unclear.
“When does that mean they’ll start getting shots in their arms? We’re not totally sure,” Jeppesen said. “We’ll get through phase 1-A as quickly as we can. That will depend on how much vaccine we get, how we get it out and distribute it.”
The state plans to publish more information on COVID-19 vaccine categories on its coronavirus website. Find the latest information here.