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 the latest on closures, cancellations & news regarding the coronavirus in Idaho.
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The Latest Idaho News
May 26 - 7:00 a.m.
Idaho school districts are wrapping up a semester unlike any other. Shuttered since early April, most districts reported early success in then-untested distance learning techniques for hundreds of thousands of K-12 students. That said, there still have been hundreds (at least) of other students who have gone "off the grid."
May 23 - 8:08 p.m.
Idaho added 31 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 Saturday and no additional deaths. This brings the statewide total to 2,387 confirmed cases and 79 deaths. This week logged the most confirmed cases since the week of April 5.
May 23 - 8:18 a.m.
High school students in every corner of Idaho are graduating this month. But now with the coronavirus crisis, schools are sending off seniors with adapted ceremonies.
Read Full Story Here.
May 22 - 5:30 p.m.
Idaho’s Division of Public Health reported 55 new lab-confirmed cases of the coronavirus today. The last time the state reported more than 50 cases was more than a month ago with 57 confirmations on April 20th. There were also six more probable cases, which brings the state total for the day to 61. Two more deaths were reported, bringing the total death count for Idaho to 79. As the governor announced the outline of an expanded testing plan today, more than 40,000 individuals have been tested for the virus, with 1,008 test results reported Friday.
May 22 - 1:00 p.m.
On Friday, Governor Brad Little and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced who should be prioritized for coronavirus testing. The expanded testing criteria means the state will need to be able to test a lot more people, said Dr. Christopher Ball, the director of the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories.
“The takeaway message from these recommendations is that we will need to build incredible testing capacity,” Balls said, “plus the ability to respond to all of those results with appropriate clinical and public health follow up care.”
The state’s highest priority group includes symptomatic, high-risk individuals like healthcare workers and first responders. It also includes some asymptomatic people, like residents and staff coming in and out of nursing homes. Priority group two includes people who work in critical infrastructure like food processing facilities.
If Idaho tested the top two priority groups in a week, that would require roughly 43,000 tests. Right now, the maximum number of tests we have the ability to run in a week is 23,000. And the state has not yet made clear its strategy for bridging that gap.
May 22 - 8:00 a.m.
Many Idaho campgrounds are opening up just in time for Memorial Day weekend. But if you’re venturing into nature this year be prepared to be self-sufficient, with services limited by the pandemic.
May 22 - 7:00 a.m.
StoryCorps, the Morning Edition fixture which preserves and share's the stories of our lives, is directing its microphones toward Idaho this month. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, the iconic StoryCorps MobileBooth needed to "shelter-in-place" this spring; but Idahoans are indeed still participating in a once-in-a-lifetime moment via the history-making StoryCorps Virtual.
May 22 - 6:50 a.m.
This Monday is a day to remember those who have died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. The Idaho State Veterans Cemetery usually hosts one of the largest Memorial Day ceremonies in the Treasure Valley.
But not this year.
May 21 - 5:08 p.m.
Idaho added 23 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and no additional deaths. Now there are 2,301 confirmed cases and 77 deaths in the state. Idaho’s Hispanic and Latino population makes up 13% of the state’s total population, but now that demographic group accounts for 26.65% of Idaho’s confirmed cases.
May 21 - 7:30 a.m.
For tourism destinations like Sun Valley, events are more than opportunities for gathering and celebration — they mean the promise of flights touched down, hotel rooms booked and meals eaten at local establishments.
Some of the Wood River Valley's biggest events won't happen this summer due to COVID-19, including the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference, the Hailey Days of the Old West Rodeo and the Allen & Co. summit.
May 20 - 5:20 p.m.
Idaho reported 25 additional lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and another five probable cases. It's the largest jump in confirmed cases since Friday.
That brings the state's total number of confirmed cases to 2,278, with 77 deaths. No additional deaths were reported Wednesday.
Idaho's testing numbers fell for the second straight day. It has one of the lowest number of tests per capita in the nation.
May 20 - 7:00 a.m.
One long-term care facility is the first of its kind in Idaho — it will care for only patients who have been exposed to COVID-19 or who have symptoms of coronavirus.
May 20 - 6:45 a.m.
Animal shelters across the nation reported an immediate surge in pet adoptions as Americans withdrew to their homes due to COVID-19. The term "pandemic puppies" became a quick catchphrase. But our relationships with our pets runs much deeper than any particular moment in history — no matter how dire.
May 19 - 5:20 p.m.
Idaho added another three deaths and 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus, state officials reported Tuesday. Two of those deaths were in Twin Falls County, while the third was in Ada County.
Idaho has now recorded 2,253 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March.
Just 497 test results were returned Tuesday compared to nearly 1,400 the day before.
As of Tuesday morning, Idaho was nearly dead last among all states for testing per capita — only Maine ranked lower.
May 19 - 7:30 a.m.
On Monday, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean announced the Economic Recovery Task Force, a partnership with local organizations, including Boise State University and Albertsons.
The pandemic forced businesses across the state to close or restrict business for about two months and McLean says part of recovery is continuing to take steps to reduce the virus’s spread, like social distancing.
May 19 - 7:00 a.m.
The global pandemic is putting a strain on Americans’ mental health. There’s been a surge of calls to crisis lines in the past two months. Add a spike in gun sales to that , and experts say we may be at risk of a suicide epidemic.
May 18 - 5:15 p.m.
After not updating coronavirus case numbers or deaths Sunday, state health officials Monday reported an additional 30 confirmed cases and one virus-related fatality. This brings the statewide case total to 2.233, with an additional 222 listed as probable. Twin Falls reported an additional fatality, putting the death toll in Idaho at 74.
Washington, Jerome and Twin Falls Counties saw the biggest increase in confirmed cases, however statewide totals for cases hospitalized and cases admitted to the ICU remained constant. 1,649 cases are listed as recovered on the state website.
May 18 - 7:15 a.m.
Boise State University and Gorongosa National Park have been working together to support Mozambique's wildlife for years. Now, in the midst of the pandemic, the university is strengthening the park in a different way: through face shields.
May 16 - 5:30 p.m.
State health officials announced 17 additional lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Idaho Saturday, bringing the statewide total to 2,203. Officials said there are 216 additional probable cases, with 14 new Saturday. No new fatalities were reported.
The Central and South Central Health districts do not report numbers on weekends, so Saturday's actual new cases could be under-reported.
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 infections have remained at 213 since May 12, now under 10% of the total infections. Medical workers infected continues to climb, reaching 293 Saturday.
May 15 - 5:15 p.m.
Thirty-four lab-confirmed cases were added in Idaho on Friday — the largest daily increase since April 20. Ada, Twin Falls and Washington counties were responsible for the biggest jumps. Southwest District Health reported on Wednesday that a number of employees at the Fry Foods, Inc. plant in Weiser (Washington County) tested positive. The county, which started the week with one case, now has 20.
Twin Falls County added another death on Friday, and now has 14 total.
May 15 - 3:04 p.m.
The South Central Public Health district is urging people in Twin Falls to wear masks, postpone gatherings and limit visitations to public places, as cases in the county have begun to rise again over the last few days.
Between May 4 and May 10, Twin Falls County saw its total case number go up by 68, the largest jump in any seven-day period in the county.
The health district says many of the new cases are residents or staff members in long-term care facilities within the county. As of May 14, 61 residents of long-term care facilities in the district had confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases.
“The residents in these facilities are some of our most at-risk. The buildings are locked down, but staff members still have to come and go. That means that while we continue to have cases in the county our friends, family, and neighbors who are living in these local facilities are still at risk,” said Logan Hudson, SCPHD Public Health Division Administrator. “You can’t protect these people if you don’t protect the community as a whole.”
May 15 - 9:50 a.m.
The South Central Public Health District confirmed at least one case of COVID-19 not linked to out-of-state travel or known contact with another person with confirmed COVID-19. This is the county’s first detected case of community spread, which means at least one person has been infected without being able to determine how or where they became infected.
Public health officials say they expect more cases in the area and are urging residents to assume the virus could be anywhere in the community.
May 15 - 7:30 a.m.
Governor Brad Little announced the state will be moving into Phase Two of reopening tomorrow, which means dine-in services are back on the menu for Idahoans.
Little says Idahoans should continue to follow physical distancing guidelines, as the virus is still a threat in Idaho.
May 14 - 5:15 p.m.
Gov. Brad Little is relaxing several restrictions on residents and businesses as Idaho moves into the second phase of his reopening plan starting Saturday.
May 14 - 5:06 p.m.
There were 26 more lab-confirmed cases added on Thursday, bringing the state total to 2152. There was one more death in Ada County, which has 22 total deaths; two deaths were added in Twin Falls County to make the total there 13. Nearly 1,000 tests came back on Thursday, the most on one day in more than two weeks.
May 14 - 12:37 p.m.
South Central Public Health District, which covers Blaine County and the Magic Valley, will hire up to 15 people to work on COVID-19 case investigations and contact tracing. The positions are temporary and are not remote. Contact tracers call contacts of anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 to notify of the exposure, refer them for testing and provide them with instructions for quarantine. Investigators conduct outbreak and cluster investigations.
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said $7 million from the CARES Act will fund the expansion of contact tracing in Idaho.
May 14 - 8:15 a.m.
Being able to test everyone who needs it and alert contacts of positive coronavirus cases that they might've been exposed is key, as states begin to open up and people move around more, health officials say.
“A big event and a big run in an area where we don’t have adequate testing, that’s what I worry about," Gov. Brad Little said during a press conference two weeks ago when asked what keeps him up at night.
May 14 - 8:05 a.m.
If you’ve turned on Zoom lately, you probably have noticed buzz cuts grown out to man buns, bangs turned into heavy curtains, and roots that would make oak trees jealous.
But, come Monday, virtual meetings may be a little less hairy.
May 13 - 5:11 p.m.
Idaho reported an additional 27 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases Wednesday and four probable cases with no additional deaths.
That brings the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 2,126, including 69 deaths. There are an additional 198 probable cases.
More than 33,000 people have now been tested for COVID-19 in Idaho, with 622 completed on Wednesday.
May 13 - 7:00 a.m.
In a wide-ranging interview surrounding the many challenges of rebooting the economy in the shadow of COVID-19, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said she had the opportunity to talk with 200 local salon owners and employees to set the record straight on what needs to happen to reopen sooner rather than later.
May 13 - 6:45 a.m.
Twin Falls County saw its biggest increase in coronavirus cases during the week following Idaho's move to stage one of its reopening plan, according to Melody Bowyer, the director of the South Central Public Health District.
In that stage, which began on May 1, Gov. Brad Little said around 90% of businesses were allowed to open.
May 12 - 5:21 p.m.
Idaho has added 26 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 7 probable cases, bringing the state’s total to 2,099.
State health officials have also subtracted a death originally attributed to the coronavirus in Canyon County, but it’s not clear why.
A spokesperson for Southwest District Health said that information wasn’t immediately available.
As it stands now, 69 people have died in Idaho from COVID-19.
Nearly 33,000 people have been tested in the state, 416 of which were recorded Tuesday.
May 12 - 10:51 a.m.
Valley County, which includes the resort communities of McCall and Cascade, produced a campaign and website aimed at welcoming visitors, while making them aware of local social distancing guidelines.
Officials say visitors should expect some businesses to require facemasks, to only offer curbside service and to limit the number of people in establishments.
"We are excited to start seeing visitors return to McCall, Donnelly, Cascade, Yellow Pine and New Meadows," said McKenzie Kraemer of the McCall Area Chamber of Commerce. "We know the West Central Mountains hold a special place in a lot of hearts and we want to ensure we're taking the necessary steps to protect anyone who lives here or comes to visit. We want everyone to help spread love, not COVID-19.
May 12 - 7:30 a.m.
In the next few weeks, tons of Idaho seniors will be cheered on online, at car parades, even on the big screen at drive-in movie theaters. These are just some of the creative ways schools are honoring the class of 2020 at a distance.
But Minico High School in Rupert is planning to hold an in-person graduation for 190 seniors plus their parents, the Times-News reported, which would violate Gov. Brad Little's orders against holding public gatherings before mid-June.
May 12 - 7:15 a.m.
A handful of brewpubs and bars are staying open despite the threat of having their alcohol licenses pulled for flouting Gov. Brad Little’s reopening plan.
May 12 - 6:45 a.m.
The coronavirus has shut down many businesses across the country. That includes casinos, with tribal leaders trying to navigate how to safely reopen these critical sources of revenue.
May 12 - 6:30 a.m.
Cinemas are among the final Idaho businesses to reopen in Governor Brad Little's four-phase plan to restart Idaho's economy in the shadow of COVID-19. If all goes as hoped, bars, nightclubs and some movie theaters might be able to swing their doors open by mid-June. But right now, Carole Skinner, co-owner of The Flicks prefers to open Boise's go-to cinema for independent and Oscar-nominated films on Friday, June 26.
May 11 - 5:10 p.m.
After not updating coronavirus case numbers or deaths Sunday, state health officials Monday reported an additional 24 confirmed cases and three virus-related fatalities. This brings the statewide case total to 2,073 and the death total to 70. Two of the deaths were listed in Ada County and the other in Canyon County.
Since testing began, 32,518 Idahoans have been tested for coronavirus and 1,508 are listed as recovered. Three confirmed cases were hospitalized between Sunday and Monday, according to the state website.
May 11 - 11:50 a.m.
A Rupert high school is moving ahead with its plan to hold a graduation ceremony for 190 students later this month.
Minidoka County School District Superintendent Ken Cox told the Twin Falls Times-News that the gathering would be allowed under the final phase of the governor’s reopening plan.
But Idaho won’t transition into that phase until at least June 13, while the ceremony is set for May 21.
“Public health isn’t required to approve mass gatherings like graduations,” Brianna Bodily, a spokeswoman for South Central Public Health District, told the newspaper.
“With that in mind, we do not recommend anyone attend large gatherings before they meet the criteria in the governor’s plan. That means for groups over 50 they should wait until stage four.”
May 11 - 9:30 a.m.
At one point, Blaine County, home to Sun Valley, had the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 cases in the entire country. It required an all-hands-on deck response from first responders, many of whom didn’t get a break before wildfire season picked up in April.
May 11 - 7:30 a.m.
True, the zoos of the world remain closed to the public due to the pandemic, but caring for the animals has taken on extra urgency. In fact, zoo caregivers need to take extreme caution to protect animals and staff, due to COVID-19.
Zoo Boise, which has been closed since mid-March, is no exception; and while there is no tentative date on when the public might return, zoo officials are working on a blueprint outlining what a reopening might look like.
May 11 - 7:15 a.m.
Communications major Lola Perez was one of nearly 2,800 seniors who graduated this Saturday virtually. She capped off her senior year in Boise with champagne and local pastries, while family cheered her on from Kauai, Hawaii.
Older blog posts:
- Read the archived blog headlines from May 10 - 16 here.
- Read the archived blog headlines from May 3 - 9 here.
- Read the archived blog headlines from April 26 - May 2 here.
- Read the archived blog headlines from April 19 - 25 here.
- Read the archived blog headlines from April 12 - 18 here.
- Read the archived blog headlines from April 5 - 11 here.
- Read the archived blog headlines from March 29 - April 4 here.
- Read the archived blog headlines from March 22-28 here.
- Read the archived blog headlines from March 15-21 here.
- Read the archived blog headlines from March 8-14 here.
News & Updates:
- The Idaho Official Resources for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updates
- World Health Organization Coronavirus Updates
- NPR Coronavirus Coverage