Gov. Brad Little signed two proclamations Monday that relate to the state’s response to spread of the novel coronavirus.
But he did not take broader steps to close schools, restaurants or bars. Instead, when it comes to schools, Little continued to defer to local school leaders and the State Board of Education.
While Little was speaking, the State Board issued a new directive calling for a soft school closure until April 20.
“This is a very challenging and uncertain time,” Little said. “But together, we will get through it.”
When asked about K-12 schools, Little said many are making the adjustment to offer online learning as most schools have closed their physical campuses.
“Some districts, by their very nature, already had a good online capacity,” Little said. “Other ones don’t. We’re trying to give them the best guidance.”
The two proclamations Little signed during a 4 p.m. press conference included:
- Waiving 125 administrative rules in an effort to improve health care capacity and reduce barriers to care. That includes broadening the use of telehealth or telemedicine, removing barriers for out-of-state physicians to see Idaho patients through telehealth and allowing physician’s assistants to be fully engaged as part of the medical team.
- Extending the state tax filing and payment deadline by 60 days, to June 15. That, couple with the federal extension until July 20, should delay a burden that some Idahoans may be facing, Little said.
When asked by reporters, Little did say that he was concerned that the state was underestimating the number of coronavirus cases because of testing.
“The answer is ‘Yes,’” Little said.
Reporters asked Little if he was considering a shelter-in-place order for Ada County, like it did for Blaine County. Little said the state was following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Unless there is community spread, then there will be no self-isolation or shelter-in-place order,” Little said.
At 5 p.m. Monday, the state’s coronavirus website was reporting 50 confirmed cases in Idaho. That includes 21 cases in Blaine County, 15 in Ada County, 4 in Canyon County, three in Kootenai County, two in both Madison and Teton counties and one each in Valley, Twin Falls and Bingham counties.
However, the Idaho Stateman was reporting at least 77 cases by aggregating information from individual health districts, which generally report faster than the state as a whole.
In recent weeks, Little has engaged with Idahoans several times to update them on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- On March 13, he held two press conference. In one he declared a state of emergency. In the other he announced Idaho’s first positive case.
- On March 15 he participated in a teleconference with state education leaders, where he announced he would not issue a statewide order to close schools.
- On Tuesday Little answered questions from Idahoans during a telephone town hall meeting.
- On Wednesday, Little conducted a Statehouse press conference to recommend additional guidance, including avoiding groups of 10 or more and working from home when possible.
- On Thursday, Little announced during a Statehouse press conference that the state was issuing an isolation order for Blaine County due to community spread.
- On Friday, Little toured Idaho’s public heal districts, met with local health officials and conducted interviews with the local news media.
Click here to read about the latest guidance to schools the State Board of Education issued Monday.
Click here for the state’s coronavirus website, which tracks confirmed cases and testing statistics.
Click here for the state’s guidance for schools.
Click here for all of Idaho Education News’ coronavirus coverage.