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Idaho Schools Get Cash For Coronavirus Testing As Cases Spike

Brad Little school COVID-19 testing
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Gov. Brad Little warned Idahoans COVID-19 cases are predicted to break new records if more people don't get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Gov. Brad Little is making $30 million available for K-12 school districts in Idaho to test students for COVID-19.

The move comes as the state is experiencing a new surge in coronavirus cases – the highest rate since January – and as schools are about to begin the fall semester.

Earlier this year, House Republicans killed a bill that would’ve allowed public and private schools to use $40.3 million for voluntary student testing.

“I would’ve preferred that they did that, but I have to deal with the hand that I’m dealt,” Little said.

Little made the announcement at the Nampa High School gym, saying the more transmissible Delta variant could upend the school year – both academics and athletics – as well as Idaho’s economy if more people don’t get vaccinated.

Right now, just 47% of eligible Idahoans are fully vaccinated compared to 59% of those nationwide.

“I would love to go back to the days when I was rationing vaccine,” Little said. “We’re not even close to that right now.”

He said state health officials predict daily case counts could break records again later this fall if transmission trends continue.

The current record was set Dec. 9, with 2,298 confirmed and probable cases. Daily cases statewide have grown to more than 700 in three of the last seven days.

The number of hospitalizations has also sharply increased since mid-July when roughly 100 people with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 took up beds each day.

Hospitalizations in Idaho have ballooned to 267 as of Aug. 9, the latest data available, 89 of which are in the ICU.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!