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Boise State Public Radio News is here to keep you current on the news surrounding COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Coronavirus In Idaho: Resources & News From April 26 - May 2

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Boise State Public Radio is here to keep you current on the news surrounding COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. This blog contains information from April 26 - May 2 on closures, openings, cancellations & news regarding the coronavirus in Idaho.

Looking for resources? Click here. If you have specific questions or a story about the virus in Idaho, please submit them here.

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Smaller Crowd Comes Out To Protest Gov. Little's COVID-19 Restrictions

May 2 - 6:15 p.m.

Opponents of Gov. Brad Little’s phased reopening of the state held another rally this weekend at the Idaho State Capitol. But after many businesses were allowed to reopen Friday, the crowds at these events have been dwindling. 

Leading the rally was Boise Pastor Diego Rodriguez who has been at the forefront of resistance to Little’s orders to fight COVID-19. On Saturday he called the governor out again.

Read the full story here.

State Reports 26 New COVID-19 Cases Saturday

May 2 - 5:10 p.m.

State health officials reported 26 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, 25 of which are new confirmed cases. Statewide, 1,905 people have confirmed infections of the coronavirus and an additional 156 cases are probable. The death toll moved from 63 to 64 on the state website Saturday, but that fatality had been reported Friday in Ada County by Central District Health. Two Hundred people have now required hospitalization, and 83 have required intensive care treatment.

The state considers 1,267 people to have recovered from the virus.

The two health districts covering the highest rates of infection do not report numbers on weekends, which could skew this reported data.

20 New Cases, No New Deaths On 1st Day of Reopening

May 1 - 5:30 p.m.

No additional deaths and 20 new confirmed cases were reported by Idaho on Friday. The total number of lab-confirmed cases in the state is 1,880 on the first day of stage one of Governor Brad Little’s reopening plan: Idaho Rebounds. Nez Perce County has the most deaths at 18, followed by the more populous Ada County at 16. The county with the highest rate of infection since the first case was confirmed in March is still Blaine County, but its death rate remains relativing low at five. Neighboring Twin Falls County has 11 fatalities. 

 

The Yotes Will Be Back On Campus This Fall

 May 1 - 4:53 p.m.

A new plan to re-open the College of Idaho to students this fall was announced Friday.

The Caldwell campus switched to all online classes on March 13, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Around 185 students were allowed to stay because they couldn’t travel home safely.

Friday, the co-presidents of the college announced the campus will open back up for the fall semester for in-person classes and on-campus living.

The pair say they are putting together task forces to focus on making classes, housing, food service, and athletics safe for students and staff. Co-President Jim Everett says they have gained experience in cleaning living spaces and meal delivery while keeping the students who are still on campus safe.

Specific details on reopening safety protocols will be sent to Yote’s students and staff by the end of May.

Boise School District Planning Drive-Up Graduation Celebrations

 May 1 - 2:15 p.m. 

The Boise School District Friday announced plans to have drive-up graduation ceremonies the week of May 18 at local high schools.
Socially distanced "Turn the Tassel/Walk the Stage" events will have students and families drive up and stay inside their cars, while staff and faculty call their name and celebrate curb-side in school parking lots.
From there, graduating students can move to a second designated area and leave their cars to pose for pictures in front of the school's backdrop.
Graduating students and family arrivals will be staggered  to minimize the number of people in school parking lots at any one time, according to a district announcement.
The District also said it was surveying parents about possible in-person graduation ceremonies in late July.
 

 

Boise Pools Will Not Open This Summer

May 1, 11 a.m.

The City of Boise announced all six municipal pools will not open for the 2020 summer swimming season due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“After taking into consideration the continued protocols surrounding physical distancing and limited group gatherings that will be in place for the foreseeable future, and understanding the impact that would have on our admissions and fiscal accountability, we believe it is the right decision for the city and the community," city Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway said in a release.

The pool closure also means there will be no Youth Summer Recreational Swim Team and no swimming lessons offered by Parks & Rec.

Idaho Unemployment Surpasses 117K, New Benefit Program Online

May 1 - 8:35 a.m.

New unemployment claims in Idaho have surpassed 117,000 since mid-March, double the number filed all last year. 

More than 8,800 new claims were filed last week, the third straight week of a decline. The service industry remains the hardest hit sector overall, but last week, healthcare and social assistance workers accounted for 19% of the state's jobless claims.

Read the entire story here.

Idaho Refugees' Wartime Experience Helps Them Through COVID-19 Pandemic

May 1 - 8:15 a.m.

Americans across the country are grappling with limited movements and a lot more time at home. For many refugees, this is familiar territory and they have some valuable insights into coping with life under a stay-home order.

Like many Americans, Salwan Swidan and his wife, Dhuha Ali have had a lot more time with family the past six weeks because of COVID-19. But they’ve been under lockdown before — and under much more dire circumstances.

Read the full story here,

 

Boise Begins Reopening With Social Distancing Order

May 1 - 7:20 a.m.

As Idaho starts to reopen many businesses Friday, the City of Boise is putting some additional safety measures above and beyond the state’s plan.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean signed a health order yesterday requiring people to keep a six-foot distance from each other for the next 30 days. She’s also asking people to wear face masks in public.

Read the full story here.

Idaho Adds 29 Confirmed Cases, 3 More Deaths On Thursday

April 30 - 5:06 p.m.

Idaho added 29 more coronavirus cases, which brings the state total of lab-confirmed cases to 1860. There were three additional deaths due to coronavirus added to the state count, totaling 63 deaths. Two of the additional deaths were in Nez Perce County, which now has 18 total deaths, two more than Idaho’s most populous Ada County. The other death added today was in Canyon County. Nine more confirmed coronavirus cases were added in both Ada and Twin Falls counties — the biggest increases among all counties for the day.

 

Gov. Little Announces $300 Million In Small Business Grants As Idaho Prepares To Reopen

April 30 - 1:30 p.m.

Idaho small businesses could get some help from the state as they poise to reopen under Gov. Brad Little’s Idaho Rebounds plan. Little is using $300 million in federal dollars to issue grants to qualifying companies.

 

He announced the move Thursday as he said “90%” of businesses would be allowed to reopen the next day under his initiative.

 

Grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to businesses who have not received other federal grants through the Paycheck Protection Program. Those that were awarded less than $10,000 through the federal program would also be eligible for this state grant. Other eligibility requirements will be finalized at 9 a.m. May 5.

 

Read the entire story here.

Rural Counties' Share Of COVID-19 Cases Doubled In A Month, Analysis Finds

April 30 - 8:30 a.m.

Many big cities are seeing the number of COVID-19 cases fall, but rural counties are seeing the opposite, according to a new analysis by the Daily Yonder, a rural nonprofit news outlet.

 

Daily Yonder editor Tim Marema, who co-authored the analysis, said they examined the number of cases in rural areas because they tend to have older populations with higher rates of pre-existing conditions.

"If it spreads in rural America, it could be a big problem for those residents because of their vulnerability," Marema said. "So then the question becomes, is it spreading?"

Read the full story here.

 

After 40% Drop, Idaho Traffic Volumes Increasing

April 30 - 7:45 a.m.

Traffic volumes plummeted in mid-March as the coronavirus hit Idaho and many people began staying and working at home. But as restrictions are about to be loosened, the number of cars on Idaho roads is creeping back up.

Read the full story here.

Idaho Adds 21 Confirmed Cases, No Additional Deaths On Wednesday

April 29 - 5:30 p.m.

Idaho reported 21 more lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the state total to 1,831. The state website lists an additional 11 cases as “probable.” With no additional deaths to report, the statewide count remains at 60.

 

The number of cases of healthcare workers infected with coronavirus increased by seven, bringing the total count to 251. 1,121 cases are listed as recovered but the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

 

Arts Organizations Partner to Help Local Artists

April 29 - 11:48 a.m.

Local arts organizations Wednesday announced a collaborative partnership in support of the Treasure Valley's creative community.

 

The COVID Cultural Commissioning Fund (CCC Fund) is a one-time, $1,000 award program for local artists' creative work, "that explores, documents, and/or reflects on personal experience of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social distancing, changes in social patterns, health concerns, job instability, and other impacts."

 

The program is open to artists 18 or older in Ada, Canyon, Boise, Gem or Owyhee Counties. Artists can apply for the grant online at http://www.treefortmusicfest.com/ccc starting at 1 p.m. April 29 through May 8.

 

A panel of local community stakeholders and national arts experts will review applications and announce winners by mid-May, according to a release.

 

The Boise City Department of Arts and History, Treefort Music Fest and the Morrison Center partnered together to create the program. Funding has come from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, The Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts and ExtraMile Arena. The fund also welcomes funding from the Treasure Valley Community

Twilight Criterium Postponed to 2021

April 29 - 10:56 a.m.

Boise Development Cycling announced the 2020 ASWD Twilight Criterium has been canceled and will return July 10, 2021.

 

The event has been a staple of summer in Boise for 34 years, and draws thousands downtown to watch professional men's and women's bike races, as well as amateur and kids’ races.

 

Event organizer Mike Cooley said in a statement, “It is not an easy thing to do but I feel it is the best option for the event and the City of Boise to postpone the 2020 Twilight Criterium to July 10, 2021. We had a fantastic run of 34 years and we start a new run next year. I wish to thank all the sponsors, volunteers and Downtown Boise Association for all their help and look to a bigger and better event next year."

Idaho Shakespeare Festival Cancels First Two Plays of 2020 Season

April 29 - 10:32 a.m.

The Idaho Shakespeare Festival announced it is canceling the first two plays of its 2020 season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Much Ado About Nothing and musical Ain't Misbehavin' were scheduled to open the season in repertory starting May 22.

 

The earliest entertainment venues like ISF can open, according to Governor Brad Little's four-phase 'Idaho Rebounds' plan is June 13-26. The festival said in its message to patrons Wednesday they would rebook or refund pre-purchased tickets, and would also accept existing tickets purchased for canceled shows as donations.

 

The festival still plans to open its third of five plays, Henry V, June 27, if it is safe for artists, employees and patrons to do so.

City Of Boise Lays Out Preliminary Reopening Plan

April 29 - 7:44 a.m.

Boise could begin slowly reopening the city starting Friday. But, that will all depend on what Gov. Brad Little has to say and what health experts advise.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, officials discussed preliminary plans to begin lifting restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. But the city won’t finalize the plan until Little implements the state’s plan.

The earliest Boise could start relaxing restrictions on some businesses would be Friday, the day after Little’s stay-home order expires. But Mayor Lauren McLean stressed that is a best-case scenario and reopening will only happen when the science backs it up.

Read the full story here.

 

Another 2 Deaths Reported As Idaho's Number Of Coronavirus Cases Surpasses 1,800 Tuesday

April 28 - 5:28 p.m.

COVID-19 has claimed another two lives in Idaho, according to state officials. One was in Ada County and another in Nez Perce County.

That brings the state’s total to 60. Another 25 cases were confirmed, marking 1,810 in Idaho. State officials counted another 10 cases as “probable.”

Since Idaho marked its first confirmed case on March 13, 1,087 people have recovered, while 173 have required hospitalization. 73 were moved to the ICU.

244 cases have involved health care workers.

Boise Salvation Army Expands Childcare Services For All Frontline Workers

April 28 - 7:35 a.m.

The group’s childcare program was originally created to ease the burden on healthcare professionals. Now, the free service for kids enrolled in kindergarten through 6th grade is available for all frontline workers thanks to a grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation.

Major Michael Halverson, the Salvation Army’s Treasure Valley Coordinator, says safety is a top priority of the program. He says they are following strict social distancing guidelines, including limiting classroom sizes to eight students.

"They would keep separate so that there's no interacting and so if something happens in one classroom, then it doesn't spread to the others," said Halverson.

Read the entire story here.

 

Idaho Churches Gear Up To Resume In-Person Worship

April 28 - 7:05 a.m.

Churches are included in the first phase of Governor Brad Little’s plan for reopening Idaho, and could resume in-person worship services starting this Sunday with proper social-distancing rules in place. Many will have their doors open and say they can operate safely, while other faith leaders disagree.

More than 130 local faith leaders met via zoom with Governor Brad Little two weeks ago. Pastor Robert Frazier of Boise’s Redemption Hill Church organized that meeting.

"We talked a little bit with him about what we've been experiencing with the stay home order," Frazier said. "We've prayed for him and his family and his administration."

Read the entire story here.

 

Antibody Tests Have Taken Center Stage, But The Nasal Swab Is Key For Idaho's Next Act

April 28 - 6:44 a.m.

Janie Leigh of Nampa was feeling really sick last month. She had a dry cough and a fever. Her whole body ached, even her hair, she said. The illness lasted about two and a half weeks.

Leigh thought she might have coronavirus. But it was early in March, before Idaho had confirmed its first case, and she couldn’t find a place to get tested. 

“We reserved PCR testing for people that were super sick or in the hospital, so that’s the mess we’re in," said Tommy Ahlquist, a former emergency room doctor and Treasure Valley developer, talking about the basic nasal swab test that tells whether someone has the coronavirus.

Read the full story here.

Nez Perce County Reports Two Additional COVOD-19 Deaths Monday

April 27 - 5:11 p.m.

Two additional deaths in Idaho were reported Monday — both in Nez Perce County. This brings the statewide total of coronavirus-related fatalities to 58. Nez Perce and Ada Counties are each reporting 15 deaths, the highest count in the state so far. 

Confirmed cases of coronavirus ticked up slowly over the weekend and 17 were added Monday, bringing the total to 1,785. The state is reporting an additional 132 “probable” cases.

Since the first confirmed case of the virus in Idaho over a month ago, a total of 20,052 people have been tested and 1,039 confirmed cases are now listed as “recovered” on the state’s website.

 

 

Idaho Landfill, Transfer Station Visits Up During Stay-At-Home Order

April 27 - 8:15 a.m.

As most of us have been spending more time at home, the amount of waste we’ve been taking to the curb has increased, too.  Trucks picking up our trash, recycling and compostable materials have been arriving in some neighborhoods an hour earlier than residents might be used to.

Rachele Klein with Republic Services says  in order to abide by social distancing rules, they had to spread the drivers leaving the facility each morning across a longer period of time.

"They have to meet with their supervisor and do their pre-truck inspection," she said. "In order to comply with that, we started staggering start times for residential services out at 6 a.m. instead of 7 a.m.”

Read the full story here.

Boise State University's Record Number Of Fulbright Scholars Face Uncertainty Due To COVID-19

April 27 - 7:45 a.m.

In the past nine years, 21 graduate and undergraduate students have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships. This year, five Boise State students have been chosen, setting a new state record.

“Here I am from Boise State and I really think it’s cool that this program isn’t just for the elite, it’s for everybody," said Connor Dennis, one of the Fulbright Scholars selected this year.

Read the entire story here.

Idaho Doctor's Offices Struggle During Coronavirus Pandemic

April 27 - 7:15 a.m.

Idaho businesses have had to shut their doors and layoff employees during the coronavirus pandemic. And though it is a health crisis, many medical providers are struggling just the same.

Idaho physician clinics have seen about a 60% reduction in revenue due to COVID-19. That’s according to a recent survey filled out by 150 clinics that represent more than one thousand physicians. 

Read the entire story here.

 

Analyst: Idaho Policy Makers In Best Position To Fill Gaps In COVID-19 Aid To Small Businesses

April 27 - 6:44 a.m.

While Idaho inches its way way to reopening its economy, no one in the U.S. is expecting any sort of a quick rebound in the wake of the pandemic.

"It's going to take much longer to thaw the economy than it took to freeze it," economist Diane Swonk told The New York Times.

The latest COVID-19 federal relief package totals $484 billion, yet doesn't include any direct relief to states or localities. 

Read the full story here.

Few Additional COVID-19 Cases Are Confirmed On Sunday

April 26 - 5:40 p.m.

 

The State of Idaho registered 10 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, of which 2 were listed as probable. Since the pandemic began, there are 1,768 lab-confirmed cases, with an additional 129 probable cases. Statewide, there have been 983 recoveries. Not all state health districts report numbers on weekends.

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