By Katie Kloppenburg / Idaho News 6
Idaho has narrowly met the criteria to move into stage four of the Idaho Rebounds plan on Saturday, June 13. The announcement came in a press conference from Governor Brad Little Thursday. The Idaho Rebounds plan is to safely reopen the economy in stages, showing the importance of individual people taking action to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Gem State.
“Health and the economy are linked. Our economic rebound cannot occur without sufficient healthcare capacity, a healthy population, and consumer and employee confidence. The most effective way to achieve a strong rebound and keep Idaho open is for all of us to step up our personal actions to protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors to preserve the sacrifices we all made to get us here,” Little said.
Public health experts established epidemiologic, syndromic and healthcare criteria for Idaho to meet before moving on to the next stage of the Idaho Rebounds plan. Idaho did come close to not meeting the criteria in two out of three areas. There was a bump in cases reported in early June, including several healthcare workers who contracted the virus, and the number of people in emergency rooms with COVID-19-like symptoms declined, but just barely.
Community spread has been seen in over half the counties in Idaho, but the virus is moving from cities to rural areas where healthcare access is limited.
“Our focus all along has been to prevent our healthcare facilities from being overrun in a short period of time, something that would have devastating effects on lives and our economy,” Little said.
Stage four runs from June 13 to June 26. 100 percent of businesses will be able to reopen on Saturday.
Vulnerable people can continue public interactions but social distancing should be practiced. Gatherings, both public and private, of more than 50 people can happen as long as social distancing and precautionary measures are put in place. Non-essential travel will continue to locations that allow it and do not have ongoing transmission. People should follow state and CDC guidelines about isolation after travel.
Businesses should continue unrestricted staffing at places of work. Social distancing should be practiced and personal protections and sanitation in place for employees. Special accommodations for vulnerable employees should be made. Businesses that are currently open should continue to follow their plans according to protocol.
Visits to senior living facilities and facilities like jails and corrections can happen in this stage. If you interact with residents and patients, be diligent about hygiene and social distancing. Nightclubs can operate with less standing room where applicable and appropriate. Large venues, like sporting venues, can open under limited social distancing protocols.