Idaho Recommending Stricter Social Distancing Guidelines To Stem Coronavirus

Mar 18, 2020

Idaho officials are discouraging gatherings of more than 10 people and telling them not to dine-in at bars and restaurants, one day after the federal government issued these guidelines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rolled out these voluntary restrictions Monday as Idaho was detecting its first handful of cases.

At a press conference Wednesday, Gov. Brad Little (R) stressed that none of these steps are mandatory as of right now.

“I leave it up to local leaders and operators of those facilities to make their own judgment calls about whether to do that,” Little said.

He said he’s concerned about unintended consequences.

“Some of these, I could say, arbitrary decisions in some other areas where they closed everything down and now there’s the issue of what do you do about child care and the big question is when do you open things back up,” Little said.

He urged Idahoans once again to think of their neighbors and not to hoard food or critical supplies while grocery stores and pharmacies rush to restock their shelves.

As of Wednesday morning, state health officials said they haven’t found any evidence that community spread led to Idaho’s nine confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Idaho is still squeezed with its ability to do widespread testing. St. Luke’s announced that it would start doing drive-thru testing today, something Little said was a great start.

“We need to expand that model all over the state, but I want to caution everyone that everybody that wants to get tested can’t get tested,” he said. “There’s only a certain amount of capacity.”

As of Wednesday morning, 468 Idahoans had been tested, according to state officials.

The governor says he’s considering loosening restrictions around child care licensing – something he says that’s left up to cities right now.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday said the IRS would give taxpayers an extra 90 days to pay anything they might owe to the federal government. The traditional deadline to file and pay any owed tax is April 15.

Little said he would “probably follow what the federal government does,” but that he would need to also consider the cashflow needs of the state.

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

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