Gov. Brad Little Extends Idaho’s Statewide Stay-Home Order Through April, Loosens Some Closures
BY REBECCA BOONE & KEITH RIDLER / AP
Idaho’s statewide stay-at-home order has been extended through the end of April, Gov. Brad Little announced Wednesday.
Little said the extension was necessary to ensure the state continues to slow the spread of the coronavirus, prevent health care facilities from being overwhelmed and hopefully hasten the end of the pandemic.
He said some businesses that were previously considered non-essential, such as flower, jewelry and other retail shops, can re-open as long as they can offer curbside service and ensure social distancing.
“Continuing to do that is the right thing to do,” Little said.
Little issued an emergency declaration on March 13 and followed with the 21-day statewide stay-home order on March 25. At the time of the order, Idaho had at least 91 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and two known instances of community spread, which means the source of a person’s infection can’t be determined.
Idaho now has at least 1,473 virus cases and 39 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
Between mid-March and early April, the Idaho Department of Labor said, nearly 78,000 people filed for unemployment benefits as the state shed thousands of jobs due to the outbreak.
Some top state GOP lawmakers, including Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, have been pressing Little to hand control of the coronavirus response to local officials. Bedke is from the tiny town of Oakley in Cassia County, which had 10 confirmed cases.
However, with a limited number of test kits available and the chance that some tests return false negative results, the number of actual cases is believed to be much higher in the state.
Republican Party Chairman Raul Labrador, a former U.S. representative and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate against Little, has also pressured the governor to lift the stay at home order.