BOISE, Idaho — Editor's note: The video posted above is from the Sunday, April 12, edition of "Viewpoint," in which Gov. Little discusses the impact of coronavirus on Idaho.
The stay-at-home order that Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued on March 25 is set to expire just before midnight on Wednesday, but don't expect restrictions to go away.
The governor plans to announce a new executive order at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday. That announcement will be streamed live on KTVB.COM.
On Tuesday, during a telephonic town hall hosted by the AARP, Gov. Little said "everything we've done to lessen the spread" of COVID-19 is important. That includes the stay-at-home order as well as social-distancing guidelines for public places and businesses that remain open to the public.
"We will have some of those practices going forward," Little said, adding that he will announce on Wednesday what those measures will be.
Alongside Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppeson, the governor said health care capacity and reducing or eliminating community spread of COVID-19 are two major indicators state officials are looking at as they determine their next steps in the fight against the coronavirus.
"That's having more personal protective equipment. That's having more people (staff) in our health care system. That's making sure that we have surge capacity," Little said. "There's literally 30 variables. It seems like every time I think I know all of them, another one comes along. The main thing is we have to have the capacity."
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The governor did not get into specifics about what might be in Wednesday's executive order.
"We're still analyzing the data," he said.
Regarding personal protective equipment, the governor's office said Tuesday that there are enough supplies in stock to meet the demand for two weeks, and Idaho can secure more as needed.
Gov. Little on Tuesday morning toured the staging area where that PPE and other medical supplies are being collected.
Jeppeson said the Department of Health and Welfare is looking to post on its website the number of coronavirus patients who have recovered, starting later this week.
For those hoping for specific numbers and dates regarding what types of restrictions will be lifted, and when, Gov. Little said he's not ready to do that.
"We have metrics, and some of them will be introduced tomorrow in our executive order," Little said. "But because this is so new -- the science, the epidemiology, the virology is so new -- there are just a lot of moving parts in it. If three weeks ago we had said 'we're going to do it by x,' the science has changed, the epidemiology has changed since then. So I agree there needs to be metrics, but it needs to be a dynamic model."
Among economic concerns is the skyrocketing number of unemployment claims due to businesses shutting down or furloughing or laying off workers.
"We have more applicants in a two-week period than we had in all of 2009," Little said. "The Department of Labor, they are getting caught up, but there's still quite a bit of work to do. And then there's a couple other programs that we still don't have final guidance on from the US Treasury Department. And we're getting geared up to do that."
The governor said about $1.25 billion worth of federal aid approved in the C.A.R.E.S. Act will arrive in Idaho on April 24 to reimburse state, local and tribal governments for costs incurred by the coronavirus pandemic.
One caller noted that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases amounts to roughly one-tenth of one percent of Idaho's population, and asked the governor if he thought that justified "all the economic harm" of stay-at-home orders.
"All the alternatives are worse than what we're doing," Little said.
The state of Idaho's website reported 1,464 total confirmed cases -- including 39 coronavirus-related deaths -- as of Tuesday afternoon.
"We know we have a lot more cases than that, and had we not done what we did, that number would be a thousand times that," Little said. "If we did not do what we're doing, not only would the health consequences, but the economic consequences, would be far greater ... there wouldn't be room in the hospitals. Public safety workers wouldn't be showing up for work because they'd be jeopardizing their own lives. The consequences of the no-action alternative are unspeakable."
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