White House document recommends Idaho significantly increase actions to fight coronavirus

Coronavirus-confirmed healthcare workers can return to work without being testing negative
Posted at 10:56 AM, Jul 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 12:56:20-04

This article was written by Chadd Cripe with the Idaho Statesman.

The White House coronavirus task force has delivered a report to Idaho that calls for a significant increase in restrictions and other actions to control the state’s coronavirus outbreak.

The document, obtained by the Idaho Statesman through Gov. Brad Little’s office, classifies Idaho and the Boise area in the task force’s “red zone.”

It recommends, among other actions, mask mandates, a social gathering limit of 10 people, bar and gym closures, and improved access to testing in the 14 red counties — including the population centers of Ada (Boise), Canyon (Nampa), Kootenai (Coeur d’Alene) and Bonneville (Idaho Falls).

It recommends similar, but less severe, actions in 17 yellow counties, including Twin Falls and Bannock (Pocatello). Gatherings should be limited to 25 people in those places, bars should be closed and gyms should have limited capacity. Masks still should be required, the recommendations say.

The full federal report, published this week by The New York Times, provides recommendations for every state in the country.

“The governor’s office has received the report,” Little’s press secretary, Marissa Morrison Hyer, wrote in an email to the Statesman. “Gov. Little and the Governor’s Coronavirus Working Group are continuously evaluating recommendations from a number of sources regarding Idaho’s COVID-19 response. The document has been provided to all of Idaho’s public health districts for their consideration.”

Little has resisted calls for a statewide mask mandate and has kept Idaho in Stage 4 of its reopening — with no limits on gatherings or closures for bars and gyms — despite failing to meet the criteria to advance three times.

Idaho’s seven-day moving average for new cases increased from 33.9 per day on June 2 to a record high of 568.9 on July 19 during the virus’ summer surge.

Central District Health has closed bars, limited gatherings to 50 and required masks in Ada County. Southwest District Health only recommends masks in its district, which includes Canyon County.

Mask mandates also have been implemented by health districts for Bonneville, Kootenai and Teton counties, and by several local governments across the state, including Boise, McCall and Blaine County.