BOISE, Idaho — Gov. Brad Little and health officials discussed the state's plan to distribute a coronavirus vaccine and established an Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee to advise decisions.
Little also announced Idaho will stay in Stage Four for the eighth time, which limits gatherings to 50 people or fewer.
“We continue to have more people in the hospital than we’d like to see," said Dr. Christine Hahn, state epidemiologist.
Hahn added, “We were worried a little bit about Labor Day, whether that played a little bit of a role in this, accelerating this. Kids are coming back to school and back to college -- I think there’s kind of an 'all of the above' thing going on."
Little said he directed the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to create a new advisory committee to guide prioritization and the implementation of a coronavirus vaccine plan.
“The availability of a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine is one of the biggest hurdles in getting our lives closer to normal. We’re proud that the United States is taking a leadership role in the research and development of the vaccine. Here in Idaho, we have been planning for months for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and we will remain focused on making sure Idaho is ready when the initial supply becomes available,” Governor Little said in a statement.
The state plan for distribution of a vaccine is on track to be submitted for approval to the federal government by Oct. 16, according to Little. The federal government hopes to produce and deliver 300 million doses of a vaccine to states beginning in January.
“We don’t know if -- and when -- a vaccine or the first vaccines will be licensed in the United States against COVID, but we wanna be ready should it become available in November," said Hahn.
Idaho will also be getting more testing resources, Little announced. The state will receive 530,000 rapid antigen tests, with plans to use the tests for schools.
“Today, October 1, Idaho received 35,000 tests that will be shipped to local public health agencies, statewide, to help support COVID testing in our schools," said Little.
More than half a million tests will be delivered to local health departments over the next three month, according to the governor.
“This will be a game changer for schools," said Little.