Little urges Idahoans to avoid groups of 10 or more and to work from home

Gov. Brad Little issued new recommendations Wednesday morning for Idahoans to avoid groups of 10 or more and to work from home when possible. But he did not change his decision to not order statewide school closures.

Gov. Brad Little addresses the media at a news conference to discuss the coronavirus on Wed. March 18. Sami Edge/Idaho EdNews

Little said the state is adopting the latest White House and Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention guidelines to slow the spread of novel coronavirus. Through the end of the month, Little encouraged Idahoans to do the following:

  • Do not visit nursing homes, retirement homes or longterm care facilities unless it is to provide critical assistance. Instead, connect with loved ones via phone, text, FaceTime or other methods.
  • Avoid discretionary travel.
  • Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
  • Continue to practice good hygiene.
  • Work from home whenever possible, unless you work in critical infrastructure industries such as health care, medicine or food supply.
  • Take advantage of drive-through, delivery or meal pick-up options for food.

“These are all best practices to keep you and your neighbors healthy,” Little said.

When asked if Idahoans should prepare for the potential of more restrictions, Little had a one-word answer — “Yes.”

“This is a very challenging and uncertain time,” Little said. “But I want to assure Idahoans we are working around the clock to expand access to testing and ensure we can handle the many, many aspects of our lives that are impacted by this situation.”

Little issued the new guidelines during a 25-minute press conference at the Statehouse.

As of 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, the state was reporting nine confirmed Coronavirus cases; three in Ada County, four in Blaine County, one in Madison County and one in Teton County, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the state’s coronavirus website.

Over the last several weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted life around the world, from the cancellation of professional sporting events to school closures in 39 states to orders shutting down bars and restaurants in neighboring Washington.

At this time, Little stressed he is not issuing a statewide order to close schools or issuing more restrictive measures to close bars and restaurants or ban gatherings. Instead, he said Idaho is adopting the latest White House and CDC guidelines.

Little said he is not pushing for more restrictions now because Idaho is a large, geographically diverse state and the situation in one town may be different from another. He also pointed out Idaho is different from other states; while many workers in other states may use mass public transit, Idahoans are more likely to drive to work in their own cars.

“Idaho is a very diverse and expansive state and what works in Cleveland is not what works in Yellow Pine,” Little said.

During the press conference, reporters also asked Little about the potential impact of coronavirus on Idaho’s economy.

“It will be somewhere between bad and badder,” Little said, before adding a quick joke about his grammar.

Little also weighed in on the ongoing legislative session. After meeting with legislative leaders, Little said it is their intention to wrap things up later today. However, Little said he would leave the decision up to them and would not end the session early himself.

Little has met with reporters and briefed the public multiple times in recent days.

Throughout the last week, Little and Health and Welfare officials have offered several pieces of advice:

  • Wash your hands with soap regularly.
  • Cover all coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid going out in public if you are sick or displaying symptoms.
  • Avoid people who are sick or displaying symptoms.
  • Practice significant social distancing.

Click here for our updated map of school closures.

Click here for the state’s coronavirus guidelines for schools.

Click here for the state’s officials coronavirus websites, which tracks positive cases and testing data.

Click here for all of Idaho Education News’s coronavirus coverage.

Clark Corbin

About Clark Corbin

Reporter Clark Corbin has covered Idaho government and education for more than a decade. He’s followed every legislative session, gavel-to-gavel, since 2011. Clark is a co-host of the Extra Credit podcast with Kevin Richert published on Fridays. You can follow him on Twitter: @clarkcorbin. He can be reached by email at [email protected]

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