During a telephone town hall Tuesday hosted by AARP Idaho, multiple callers raised questions about the seriousness of the coronavirus or the reliability of the data with Gov. Brad Little.
Two residents asked Little about Idaho’s response to the virus based on a false death rate. Their calculations were far below the state’s actual death rate, which is still low at 0.7% compared to 3.4% for the entire U.S.
As of Monday night, state officials confirmed 14,337 cases in Idaho since March 13, with 122 deaths.
But Little said the death rate is a “lagging indicator” that doesn’t show just how serious the spread has gotten in some communities.
He also noted that the death rate doesn’t take into account the virus’s effect on younger people. Hospitals are beginning to fill up, with the governor saying 27% of those hospitalized last week were under age 50.
“I know in particular three different quite young people, very robust, physically fit young people, that are still suffering with the negative consequences of this after a long time,” Little said.
Jim from Nampa, which is in one of the hardest hit counties in the state, asked Little, “How bad is this virus, really?” and that he “doesn’t know anything about it.”
The governor responded that it’s more contagious than a cold or the flu. State health director Dave Jeppesen added that the virus is more deadly than both of those illnesses and that the long-term effects are still unknown.
Another caller from Coeur d’Alene urged Little to implement a statewide mask mandate – something governors in other states hit hard by the virus have done. But, as he’s said multiple times when asked this question, there are still two counties without a single confirmed COVID-19 case and that those decisions should be handled by local and regional officials.
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