With schools coming back into session across the state, Gov. Brad Little said the next few weeks are an important time for education and fighting the coronavirus.
Speaking during his regular AARP Idaho telephone town hall meeting Tuesday, Little delivered optimistic news and spread words of caution at various points.
The fall could bring challenges, he said. The coronavirus is more likely to spread as schools reopen, the flu season will begin and weather changes will push more Idahoans indoors.
Little and Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen urged Idahoans to get a normal flu shot and remain vigilant about slowing the spread of the virus in order to help schools.
“All those things Director Jeppesen and I have talked about week, after week, after week about distancing, hygiene, staying home if you’re sick and a face covering —they were important before but they are even more important given where we are on the calendar,” Little said.
Another 33 school districts and charters will begin the school year next week, after Labor Day. Several districts opened in various forms beginning in August.
Little and Jeppesen used Tuesday’s call to highlight how several coronavirus indicators are showing signs of improvement.
- The increases in the number new cases has declined.
- Positive test results are below 10 percent for the first time in several months.
- Hospitalizations have stabilized, Jeppesen said, although they remain high.
But some areas of concern remain.
- Deaths continue to increase, usually daily.
- ICU usage for COVID-19 patients continues to increase, Jeppesen said.
“Even though the numbers are heading the right direction, they’re still too high,” Jeppesen said.
The rest of the call was somewhat unfocused, as several callers posed conspiracy theories to Little and U.S. Attorney Bart Davis.
Callers did not even ask Little about last week’s special legislative session or the emergency order that dominated public testimony during the session.
Little will conduct a Statehouse news conference Thursday to discuss Idaho’s reopening plan and its fight against the pandemic.
The next AARP telephone town hall meeting is set for Sept. 15, and will feature Little and state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn.