Idaho will remain in Stage IV of its economic reopening for an additional two weeks, Gov. Brad Little announced July 23.
"We are not where we want to be," he said.
The announcement comes as Idaho experiences massive growth in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, and just a day after the deadliest of the pandemic in Idaho so far: Nine people died from the illness on Wednesday alone.
Speaking at the offices of Central District Health, Little said taking action against the spread of the illness was paramount if other statewide objectives, which include Idaho public school students returning to classrooms in the fall and the growth of the Idaho economy, are to be achieved.
In order to do that, he said, the State of Idaho will continue to rely on local public health districts to coordinate with cities and counties in their jurisdiction on measures to control cases.
"When it comes to our public health response, our plans for school reopening, and our support for businesses across Idaho, we are focused on working closely with local officials and local leaders," he said.
Throughout the pandemic, the State of Idaho moved swiftly through the different phases of reopening, with confirmed cases remaining limited. When Idaho hit Stage IV, however, large clusters of the illness began cropping up—notably, in Boise, around bars downtown, leaving Boise and Ada County with the highest rates of infection in the state, and pausing the advancement toward a full reopening of the economy, facilities and some social services.
Since then, the numbers of confirmed cases and reported deaths have continued to mount.
Two weeks ago, when Little delegated control over local response to health districts, Central District Health began deliberating local measures. Ada County has regressed to Stage III, and in Boise and the rest of Ada County, a face mask order is in effect. Southwest District Health, which covers other nearby counties, has twice rescheduled meetings at which it would discuss a possible face mask mandate due to demonstrations and people trying to attend those meetings in person by force.
As treatments and a vaccine for the disease are under development, public health recommendations are meant to contain and reduce the spread of COVID-19. They include frequent hand-washing, maintaining social distance, wearing a face mask when in public and staying home from work when you feel ill.