An optimistic Gov. Brad Little said Tuesday that Idaho may soon start to see the benefits of the statewide stay-home order.
Taking questions from Idahoans during a one-hour telephone town hall meeting Tuesday afternoon, Little said Idahoans have generally responded positively to the escalated social restrictions he announced last month as part of an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We are nearing a point in time where we will be able to see the dividends of our stay-home order to where the rate of increases, we anticipate, will go down given the incredible behavior of the people of Idaho and their willingness to do what is right in a global pandemic and stop the spread,” Little said. “The better we do that now, the sooner we can get back to a sense of normalcy going forward.”
It has now been nearly two weeks since Little issued the stay-home order back on March 25. It is set to run until 11:59 p.m. April 15 unless it is rescinded or extended.
Despite his optimism about seeing dividends from the stay-home order, Little said it’s important not to let up and allow a spike in cases to occur.
“I will predict with pretty good confidence something is going to continue on,” Little said.
“We will not return to normal on April 16,” he continued.
Until there is a vaccine, a good therapeutic or herd immunity, Little said some things will need to remain in place.
Little announced Idaho’s first confirmed case of coronavirus March 13. Since then, the State Board of Education has issued a directive to close schools. The State Board extended that directive through the end of the school year Monday, with the caveat that local officials could seek to reopen if local social distance guidelines are removed, the school meets a new set of criteria the State Board will approve April 13 and administrators get approval from local public health officials.
Little fielded a question Tuesday from a woman whose husband drives a school bus in a Canyon County district. She wished the State Board closed all schools and is concerned the board is allowing local school officials a chance to meet new criteria to reopen.
“One of the caveats on that State Board action was it has to be in conjunction with the local public health district,” Little said. “Canyon County, where you live, has community spread. I am certain the health district in Canyon County will strongly advise any school district that is thinking about reopening, given the community spread that exists in Canyon County.”
Coronavirus case update
As of Tuesday afternoon, the state and its health districts reported 1,213 cases of coronavirus, and 15 fatalities. A day ago, Idaho reported 1,173 coronavirus cases and 13 fatalities.
The numbers reflect cases confirmed by the state Department of Health and Welfare and a small number of additional cases reported by the health districts.
As of Tuesday, the state has administered 11,898 coronavirus tests.
Idaho now has confirmed cases in 32 of 44 counties. Counties with the most cases are Ada (438), Blaine (428), Canyon (114), Twin Falls (53) and Kootenai (42).