Gov. Little rolls Idaho back to Stage 2, activates the National Guard

BOISE, Idaho — Governor Brad Little rolled Idaho back to Stage 2 of the Idaho Rebounds plan on Friday.

The move comes as Idaho grapples with increasing case rates, hospitalizations rates and widespread COVID-19 transmission.

Under Stage 2, group gatherings are limited to 10 people, Idahoans are encouraged to telework if possible, masks are required at long-term care facilities and bars and nightclubs must seat patrons.

“This does not mean Idaho’s economy is on lockdown,” he said.

Little also deployed the National Guard to assist with pandemic response. He is calling for 100 guardsmen to help across the state. They will help with testing and cleaning facilities so healthcare workers can focus on their jobs. Little said hospitals are concerned they will will have to begin turning people away soon, saying “this is unacceptable and more must be done.”

Little did not issue a mask mandate, but did stress the importance of wearing masks in order to reduce transmission and stop the spread of COVID.

He had several speak at the press conference, including Amelia Cortez, a COVID-19 survivor. She was in the ICU for weeks.

“When I got out of the hospital, my mother had to bathe me, she had to dress me, she had to brush my hair, help me with my makeup. I could not walk 10 steps without feeling like I was going to collapse,” Cortez said.

She spoke to Idahoans on Friday as Little encouraged people to wear masks and announced the increased restrictions.

While he and other healthcare workers stressed the importance of masks, reporters pressed Little about why there is no statewide mask mandate.

Little says he and the state still “need to make a case” and that law enforcement can’t be everywhere.

“We have to make a better case for people to not only where they might be seen by somebody in law enforcement, but where they really believe about the efficacy of the mask and the need for the masks to protect themselves and their community,” he said.

He said Idahoans must wear their masks when socializing with others and specifically pointed to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. He said people should limit their socializing and do the right thing to protect their loved ones.

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