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Idaho Moves To Stage Four Of Reopening

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Gov. Brad Little and state health officials are moving Idaho to Stage 4 of the pandemic reopening plan. The state had been in Stage 3 for three months.

“We’re currently seeing some of the best numbers we have seen since last summer," Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said in a press release.

"We think the COVID-19 vaccine is one of the main reasons for that, and we want to encourage people who haven’t yet gotten the vaccine to consider choosing to get the vaccine to allow things to continue to improve,” he continued.

Idaho's seven-day moving average for new COVID-19 cases hasn't been this low since late June of 2020. More than half a million Idaho residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The major change that comes with moving from Stage 3 to Stage 4 is that there are no more statewide gathering size restrictions. There are still some cities with gathering restrictions such as Boise and Ketchum.

Face masks are still required in long-term care centers.

State health officials are encouraging more people to get vaccinated to keep the state open. Soon, more Idahoans will have an opportunity. The FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents 12-15 years old earlier this week, and an advisory group to the CDC is set to meet Wednesday for a final recommendation.

“CDC will hopefully approve those recommendations and vaccination can start on Thursday in this age group," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn.

Parents can find local vaccine providers that have Pfizer-BioNTech doses at vaccines.gov.

About 15% of 16- and 17-year-olds in Idaho have been vaccinated so far, but state health officials like Hahn said they’d like that number to be higher. That’s true for almost all age groups.

Idaho turned down about 75% of doses offered by the federal government this week because, with about four weeks of vaccine on hand, providers have enough supply to meet current demand.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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