Governor Brad Little signed an executive order today mobilizing the Idaho National Guard to help the pandemic response in new ways, and he signed a new statewide public health order rolling Idaho back into a modified Stage 2 of the Idaho Rebounds plan.
Healthcare leaders say they are weeks away from having to ration care because too many healthcare workers are out sick with COVID-19. That means they will have to turn people away from emergency departments or they will be unable to provide the best care for patients with COVID-19, heart attacks, strokes, and other health issues.
“This is the biggest challenge facing healthcare right now – the availability of trained healthy nurses and doctors to care for all patients, not just COVID-19 patients. This impacts all of us, whether we have COVID-19 or not,” Governor Little said.
Executive Order 2020-19 calls 100 troops to provide a host of capabilities where they are needed, potentially including mobile testing support, medical facility decontamination, or COVID-19 screenings, in addition to ongoing planning and logistics support.
Under the new statewide Stage 2 public health order:
- Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. This does not pertain to religious or political expression. Physical distancing is required for all gatherings.
- At-risk Idahoans should self-isolate.
- All Idahoans are encouraged to telework whenever possible and feasible with business operations.
- Masks continue to be required at long-term care facilities.
- Bars, nightclubs, and restaurants continue to operate with seating only.
Governor Little said this does not mean Idaho’s economy is on lockdown. Businesses and churches will remain open under the new statewide public health order. However, all individuals and businesses should continue following recommended protocols to minimize transmission, including wearing masks when around others not in your household. Those protocols are available at Rebound.Idaho.Gov.
Governor Little stressed the importance of our students remaining in their classrooms for in-person instruction as much as possible.
“We put millions of dollars toward the safe operation of schools. Schools are controlled environments and they remain safe places to work and learn, when protocols are followed. School buildings are not the place where virus transmission is occurring,” Little said. “School closures threaten the biggest capacity issue facing our healthcare system – the availability of healthy workers. If a healthy nurse or doctor must stay home to facilitate online learning for their children, then they can’t care for the sick and help get us through this crisis. Our kids need to remain in school for in-person instruction as much as possible.”
Governor Little also talked about the importance of wearing masks to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“Half of Idaho’s population is under a local ordinance requiring masks, but we are seeing non-compliance with those local orders. Or, people are wearing their masks in public but then take them off in social settings where the virus is more likely to spread,” he said. “Law enforcement can cite individuals for violating local ordinances, but law enforcement cannot be everywhere all the time. That is why I maintain this comes down to personal responsibility. Please, wear a mask whenever you’re around another person who is not in your household so we can protect lives, preserve healthcare access for all of us, and continue our economic rebound.”