Idaho House approves money to fight coronavirus outbreak

Posted at 12:16 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 14:16:46-04

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho lawmakers moved at lightning speed Thursday to bolster the state’s ability to fight the new coronavirus.

The House voted 70-0 to approve a request from Republican Gov. Brad Little for $2 million to go into an emergency fund for use around the state. The Senate voted 35-0 Wednesday to approve the same request.

Republican Rep. Rick Youngblood told House members that the emergency fund is nearly depleted. He also said Idaho will receive $4.5 million from the federal government, but it’s not clear when the money will arrive.

“I couldn’t tell you honestly if we’re going to spend $2, $4 or $10 million,” Youngblood told fellow representatives. “I’m not sure we’d spend any money on coronavirus. But we want to be prepared for any emergency for the state of Idaho.”

Some of the state money will be used by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to test for the virus.

State officials say 93 people have so far been tested, but no one has been positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

On Wednesday, the Treefort Musical Fest, a popular music festival scheduled for this spring in downtown Boise, was postponed until September amid growing concerns about the new coronavirus outbreak.

Treefort attracts crowds of more than 20,000 people. This year, more than 400 artists and bands were in the lineup for the week-long festival originally scheduled to begin March 25.

(by Associated Press)