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Idaho restrictions to remain; governor wants schools open

Governor Brad Little hold press conference August 6

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Gov. Brad Little said Thursday Idaho will remain in the fourth and final stage of his plan to reopen during the pandemic for at least another two weeks as coronavirus infections and deaths show no sign of slowing down.

You can watch the press conference below.

Little said the state has sufficient healthcare workers, personal protection equipment, ventilators and ICU beds.

Little also emphasized the millions of dollars being spent to make sure schools can safely reopen this fall, including $10 million for additional masks, gloves, sanitizer and separation glass.

Resources the State of Idaho is directing to the safe reopening of schools include:

  • $10 million for additional masks, gloves, sanitizer and plexiglass for Idaho schools
  • $48 million will help bridge the “digital divide” and equip schools with the computers, connectivity, and other resources to ensure successful remote learning
  • $21 million toward COVID-19 testing for teachers and school staff
  • $3 million to increase testing lab turnaround time and capacity – as well as lab upgrades – to help get test results for teachers and school staff as quickly as possible
  • $3 million to leverage Idaho pharmacies in testing efforts to help quickly produce testing results for teachers, school staff, and families in rural Idaho, where the majority of Idaho school districts are located

On Wednesday, Gov. Little said he'll call the part-time Legislature back into a special session in late August due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said in a statement the special session will start during the week of August 24 and possibly include how to conduct the November general election.

The special session could also include legislation creating a liability shield for protection against lawsuits during declared emergencies such as the pandemic.

A timeline calls for lawmakers to give the governor specific legislation by mid-August.

Little would then issue a proclamation on August 17 detailing the exact issues to be considered.

According to Johns Hopkins University, through Tuesday there were nearly 23,000 infections and 217 deaths in the state.

The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Idaho was 15.98 percent through Tuesday, a drop from 20.45 percent on July 22, according to The COVID Tracking Project. But among states and including Puerto Rico, that makes Idaho seventh-worst in the nation.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some - especially older adults and people with existing health problems - it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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