Gov. Little addresses Idaho’s first COVID-19 deaths, statewide efforts to slow the spread

Idaho Gov Brad Little

Idaho Governor Brad Little addressed the state’s first confirmed COVID-19 deaths on Thursday in an interview broadcast on Idaho Public Television.

Gov. Little was joined by Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen and state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn. 

During the roughly hour-long interview, they talked about the state’s stay-home order, testing capacity, and overall efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

As of Thursday, there are 190 confirmed cases in the state, but Jeppesen believes there could be many more. 

In fact, he said roughly 80% of infected people aren’t sick enough to actually seek medical treatment, so there could potentially be many cases of mildly sick patients who aren’t getting tested. 

At the beginning of the outbreak, Jeppesen said the state lab would receive roughly 12-15 tests a day. That number has since upgraded to nearly 160 high-risk tests sent in daily. 

In all, the state lab has received 1,200 or so tests. 

“We should expect to see more cases pretty quickly here,” Jeppesen said. 

Health officials are currently working on improving that testing capacity, as well as acquiring more personal protective equipment for health care workers, such as masks, gloves, and gowns. 

Many Idaho residents had questions regarding which businesses are considered ‘essential’ and will remain open during the statewide stay-home order.   

Gov. Little said grocery stores, gas stations, and medical facilities will remain open. Residents should avoid using other services, like pet grooming and vape shops, which Gov. Little said fall under ‘non-essential.’ 

Jeppesen added that outdoor activities are still perfectly fine, and encouraged residents to hike and bike, so long as they maintain social distancing practices. 

“This is going to put stress on people,” Jeppesen said, encouraging residents to seek virtual mental health services if necessary. “We need to help take care of each other.”

READ: Three coronavirus deaths reported in Idaho

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READ: Additional COVID-19 case confirmed in N. Idaho, bringing regional total to 10