Idaho Gov. Brad Little late March 25 issued a statewide stay-at-home order and signed an extreme-emergency declaration amid COVID-19 concerns. Details were to be finalized by day’s end.
Agriculture and food production are among “essential services” that the statewide stay-at-home order exempts, said Marissa Morrison Hyer, Little’s press secretary.
The governor issued the order, to take effect immediately and last for 21 days, following guidance by Idaho public-health experts.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases totaled 100 in Idaho on March 25. Little in a March 23 news conference left isolation decisions in local hands, but at that point only Blaine County — home of the Sun Valley resort — had experienced community spread.
By March 25, spread had been documented in Ada County in the southwest region and was believed to be present in Kootenai County in the north.
“From the get-go, our focus has been to slow the spread of coronavirus to protect our most vulnerable citizens and preserve capacity in our health care system,” the governor said in a statement. “And from the beginning, I stated my commitment to making decisions about our response to coronavirus based on science. With confirmed community transmission of coronavirus now occurring in Idaho’s most populated areas, we need to take strong measures to ensure our health care facilities are not overburdened.”
The statewide stay-at-home order also exempts grocery stores, health care facilities, home health care, veterinary service, gas stations, pharmacies, essential state and local government functions, financial institutions, hardware, child care for essential workers, infrastructure and other businesses essential for the well-being of residents.
Restaurants can remain open only for drive-through, carry-out or delivery service. Near-home outdoor activities are allowed. People are encouraged to stay six feet apart.
“Our health care and public safety workers are putting themselves in harm’s way to respond to the coronavirus emergency, and we owe it to them to do our part by following this statewide stay-home order,” Little said. “We will get through this together as long as we all play an active part in fighting the spread of coronavirus.”
Also under the order, people must limit public transit unless to provide or obtain essential services. They must limit all discretionary travel, and all non-essential gatherings outside the household.
The extreme-emergency declaration allows the state to more effectively increase health care capacity, take steps to reduce and slow coronavirus spread, and take rapid and decisive steps to improve the condition of residents whose job and incomes are being harmed by the pandemic.
Little made the announcement at Gowen Field, where he visited with the Idaho National Guard personnel he recently mobilized to support civil authorities and local jurisdictions during the coronavirus emergency.
At his request, Guard personnel are prepared to set up a joint task force to provide mobile testing support, transport commodities, provide facilities, tents or other equipment, and perform other duties as needed in Idaho’s coronavirus response, the statement said.
The Idaho Office of Emergency Management, part of the Idaho Military Division, is the key emergency response planner and coordinator for interagency preparedness in the state.