It’s time for another installment of of our special series COVID-19 Update, bringing you the latest developments on the novel coronavirus outbreak that public health authorities here and throughout the country are working diligently to mitigate.
Unlike some of the nonsense that is unfortunately circulating on social media, all the information you’ll find here is accurate and based on sound science.
Idaho joins the “stay at home” party
Idaho Governor Brad Little, a Republican, has come under fierce and withering fire in recent days for an inadequate response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Now he is scrambling to respond. The state’s newspaper of record, The Idaho Statesman, which is based in Boise, published a blistering editorial yesterday denouncing Little for not rising to the moment. The newspaper opined:
With few confirmed cases and a seemingly low spread of COVID-19, Idaho had a golden opportunity to lead the nation and take proactive preventative measures to “flatten the curve” and stem the rise in cases in this crisis. We could have been a model for how to handle the outbreak and have the fewest cases of coronavirus in the country.
Instead, after Little’s Monday press conference, we appear, yet again, to head to the bottom of the list.
We were hopeful that Little would announce more stringent measures, such as those being taken by other states’ governors, including Oregon and Washington right next door, and by Boise Mayor Lauren McLean.
The editorial went on:
We were looking for a strong response from the governor, but what did we get instead? The deadline to file taxes got pushed back.
We were sorely disappointed and, frankly, are concerned that such an unemphatic response will lead to a full-blown outbreak in Idaho, resulting in an overwhelmed health care system and, ultimately, what could have been preventable deaths.
To date, Little’s position has been a typical Idaho approach to dealing with a problem. God forbid that we should use the heavy hand of government to stop this thing.
And make no mistake, that’s what it’s going to take. It’s time for forceful and aggressive leadership from the governor. Leaving it up to individual cities, counties and districts is woefully inadequate.
I don’t know about you, Idaho, but I really hate looking like a loser.
Unfortunately, the past twenty-four hours have made it difficult to feel like we’re “winning” in the Gem State.
WalletHub, a personal finance website that creates metrics-based state rankings of everything, just pumped out a coronavirus study that will make Idahoans want to hide under their beds — or, at least, never leave the house.
That came roughly twelve hours after Rachel Maddow blasted Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s laissez-faire COVID-19 policies on her MSNBC show.
The evidence clearly shows that Little’s little response has not been working for Idaho. Bowing to the criticism and the calls for more stringent action, Little has belatedly joined his colleagues Jay Inslee and Kate Brown in putting his state under a “stay at home” order. He announced his decision today at Gowen Field.
“From the get-go, our focus has been to slow the spread of coronavirus to protect our most vulnerable citizens and preserve capacity in our healthcare system,” Governor Little said in a news release sent to NPI. “And from the beginning, I stated my commitment to making decisions about our response to coronavirus based on science. With confirmed community transmission of coronavirus now occurring in Idaho’s most populated areas, we need to take strong measures to ensure our healthcare facilities are not overburdened. I am following the guidance of our public health experts and issuing a statewide stay-home order effective immediately.”
“Our healthcare and public safety workers are putting themselves in harm’s way to respond to the coronavirus emergency, and we owe it to them to do our part by following this statewide stay-home order,” Governor Little added.
The order is effective for twenty-one days. Its actual text was not available at press time (it’s not finished yet), but we will update this post when it is.
Idaho’s COVID-19 case count has gone up
Just like every other state in the country, Idaho is seeing more COVID-19 cases. The total number of cases has now reached seventy-three. There have not been any deaths yet. 1,089 people have been tested through the state laboratory system and seven hundred and ninety eight have been tested through commercial labs. Here’s a breakdown of where the cases are:
|Public Health District||County||Cases||Deaths|
|Panhandle Health District||Kootenai||3||0|
|Southwest District Health||Canyon||5||0|
|Central District Health||Ada||22||0|
|South Central Public Health District||Blaine||33||0|
|Southeastern Idaho Public Health||Bannock||2||0|
|Eastern Idaho Public Health||Madison||2||0|
Most of the region now under stay-at-home orders
With today’s action by Little, the three states that NPI primarily serves are now all under stay-at-home orders. Adjacent jurisdictions are moving closer towards having similar policies in place. Alaska is requiring people who travel to The Last Frontier to self-quarantine. Montana has shut schools and mandated physical distancing. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also urged his constituents (including British Columbians and Albertans) to go home and stay there.
Alaska sees first death
Alaska isn’t yet under a “stay at home” order (Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy has indefensibly neglected to issue one), but that could be changing soon.
Community transmission of the novel coronavirus has already happened within the state, the nation’s largest by area. And one Alaskan has now died from COVID-19… although in Washington State, not Alaska.
The first Alaskan killed by COVID-19 was in Washington state when they contracted the illness and died, state officials announced Tuesday evening as they stepped up their call for Alaskans to avoid close contact with others.
Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, said in a media briefing Tuesday that the individual had been in Washington for some time and that officials believe that’s where they contracted COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. The death is considered an Alaska case under federal rules, she said.
Meanwhile, Alaska’s public employees, who are gravely concerned about their own health, are suing Dunleavy for keeping state offices open. And many Alaskans have reported not being able to get tested for COVID-19.