Staff at Saint Alphonsus Meridian Health Plaza use a tent as a home base outside the urgent care facility for administering tests for COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 in Meridian.

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Idahoans struggling with the impacts of COVID-19 can now find support through a statewide crisis counseling hotline. 

The COVID Help Now Line is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mountain time, seven days a week and can be reached by calling or texting 986-867-1073 or calling toll-free 866-947-5186.

The hotline offers support for anyone facing challenges related to the pandemic, including in areas of behavioral health, food insecurity and housing.

The Division of Behavioral Health in the Department of Health and Welfare and in conjunction with the Idaho Office of Emergency Management announced the hotline Monday. 

COVID Help Now responders are trained crisis counselors who will help callers assess their current situation and reaction and will provide coping mechanisms to reduce stress. COVID Help Now responders provide emotional support and aid for immediate crisis needs by connecting callers with resources in their own communities. The COVID Help Now Line is anonymous. Responders do not classify, label, or diagnose people, and no case records are taken.

Responders are available via phone or text, with a chat feature coming soon. Callers may also leave a message during off-hours and receive a return call the following day. Resources can also be found by visiting www.ioem.idaho.gov/covidhelpnow.

Weekend COVID-19 updates, by the numbers:

Saturday, Aug. 8:

24,495 total cases statewide

  • 573 new daily cases (545 of those were lab-confirmed)
  • 235 deaths, 6 of them new on Saturday
  • 1,444 health care workers infected, 21 of them new
  • 988 hospitalizations, 20 of them new

Ada County: 8,932 total cases

  • 212 new daily cases
  • 81 deaths, 5 of them new

Canyon County: 5,726 total cases

  • 106 new daily cases
  • 48 deaths (none new)

Sunday, Aug. 9

24,671 total cases statewide

  • 176 new daily cases (170 of those were lab-confirmed)
  • 237 deaths, 2 of them new
  • 1,451 health care workers infected, 7 of them new

Ada County: 8,949 total cases

  • 17 new daily cases
  • 81 deaths (no new)

Canyon County: 5,772 total cases

  • 46 new daily cases
  • 48 deaths (no new)

Source: coronavirus.idaho.gov

July 17

St. Luke’s Health System is urging people not to use emergency departments for the sole purpose of COVID-19 testing without severe illness. COVID-19 tests are only available by appointment and at certain clinics.

More people have been coming to St. Luke’s emergency departments asking for a test in recent weeks. Patients often have no symptoms or mild symptoms yet are seeking emergency care.

"Due to the rise in moderate to severe COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization, it is critical to protect the valuable and limited resources in emergency departments," St. Luke's said in a press release.

In response to increasing demand for COVID-19 testing, St. Luke’s has expanded its testing capacity for symptomatic patients by distributing additional testing supplies to selected primary care clinics more by-appointment testing. People with no symptoms or mild symptoms will not get a test in the emergency department. They must have an appointment for testing at a designated St. Luke’s clinic. 

If you have symptoms, you can use St. Luke's self-triage tool in myChart. If that indicates you should be tested, you can schedule an appointment in myChart. A COVID-19 hotline is also set-up for instructions or assistance at 208-381-9500.

Due to limited testing capacity and supplies, St. Luke’s is currently unable to accommodate any other asymptomatic testing. 

Refer to stlukesonline.org/covid19 for more information on St. Luke’s coronavirus response and services.

July 8

The recent rise in COVID-19 cases and demand for testing "has stressed national laboratory testing capabilities," Saint Alphonsus Health System announced Wednesday. The hospital group is seeing longer-than-normal lines at its testing sites in Meridian and Nampa, and a large volume of calls to its hotline.

Because of the limited resources, Saint Al's is prioritizing testing for patients based on greatest medical need and severity of symptoms. People with no symptoms or mild symptoms are directed to practice self-care at home rather than seek a test.

Saint Al's runs two drive-up testing sites, at the Meridian Health Plaza and the Nampa Garrity Road Clinic, and both are experiencing longer lines than normal.

Similarly, St. Luke's Health System is prioritizing testing for patients showing symptoms. The health system offers testing by appointment only in the Treasure Valley and surrounding areas.

The only asymptomatic patients St. Luke's prioritizes for testing are those with an upcoming procedure that increases exposure to their breath and/or airway, and patients who are being discharged or transferred to a long-term care or skilled nursing facility.

St. Luke's is averaging 800 to 1,200 tests per day and pursuing ways to grow that number, That includes "sourcing additional supplies and equipment, which today are in limited supply, to hiring additional staff, to finding ways to open more appointments at more clinic sites to accommodate community needs," according to an email Wednesday from St. Luke's spokeswoman Anita Kissée.

Other testing resources are available, such as Crush the Curve Idaho, Saltzer Health and Primary Health. West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell also offers resources and information on its website. 

Saint Al's COVID-19 hotline: 208-302-2683. More information online here

St. Luke's hotline at 208-381-9500. More information online here.


The CDC has identified the following symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Source: Saint Alphonsus

July 6

Crush the Curve Idaho is opening a mobile COVID-19 testing site in Eagle starting Tuesday, July 7.

Where: Eagle Middle School, 1000 W. Floating Feather Road

Hours of operation, starting Tuesday, July 7: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday-Saturday

Scheduling: People will be able to schedule a testing time by taking the Crush the Curve Idaho assessment here. Appointments are not required but appreciated.

June 29

The Discover Center of Idaho, which has been closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, will reopen July 7, Executive Director Eric Miller announced Monday.

The center, at 131 W. Myrtle St. in Boise, will reopen with the traveling exhibition "King Tut: Treasures of the Tomb." This 6,000-square-foot, touch-free exhibition includes meticulously crafted replicas of the pharaoh’s sacred and personal possessions along with artifacts from the period surrounding King Tut’s reign.

Visitors, who will be highly encouraged to wear a mask and social distance, will also be able to explore the popular Tinker the T-Rex exhibit, STEM camps and class, other traveling exhibitions and immersive experiences. However, most of the hands-on exhibits have temporarily been removed, including the Young Learner area.

Changes at the center include: 

  • Timed entry ticket purchases with limited capacity and new operating hours. The center will be closed Mondays for a deep clean. 
  • Contact-free payment options at the door (credit and debit cards only).
  • Designated entrance and exit with an automatic door opener to minimize surface contact.
  • Specific routes through galleries to follow to help maintain social distancing.
  • Surface cleaning throughout the day.
  • Automatic hand sanitation stations.

For more information and updates visit dcidaho.org.

June 19

Here's an announcement from Bogus Basin:

Bogus Basin will open for summer operations on Friday, June 26. The nonprofit recreation area will operate seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., through Aug. 16, then transition to weekends through early October.

Activities include the Glade Runner Mountain Coaster, summer tubing, scenic rides on the Deer Point and Morningstar Chairlifts, bike rentals and gem panning. Food and beverage offerings, featuring the Double R Ranch BBQ Smokehouse menu, will be served in the ICCU Base Area Plaza. Simplot Lodge will also be open for food & beverage on weekends.

New this year: The debut of Bogus Basin’s lift-served mountain bike park, located off the Morning Star Express chairlift. The park will feature both new and reconfigured downhill-only bike trails catering to a wide range of rider skill levels, from beginner to expert. Access to the bike park will be available from the Morning Star high speed quad chairlift daily, and from the Deer Point Express high speed quad chairlift on weekends and holidays. The road to the Pioneer Lodge from the base area will be closed.

Guests will be required to adhere to state and federally recommended COVID-19 safety protocols, including wearing face masks while inside buildings, in line, and when physical distancing is not possible.

Hand sanitizing stations have been installed near all of the activities, new directional signage will help facilitate physical distancing in congested areas, and equipment and high touch surfaces will be regularly disinfected.

“We are excited to welcome everyone up to the mountain for summer fun and recreation. The single most important thing that every guest to Bogus Basin needs to know is that their safety is our number one concern. Everyone is expected to follow our COVID-19 guidelines," said General Manager Brad Wilson. “This includes wearing face masks in certain areas, such as while waiting in line and when inside our facilities. We will take every precaution as we prepare to do the same in winter.”

Bogus Basin has retained all 50 of its full-time staff members throughout the pandemic, and plans to hire 100 additional seasonal employees for summer. The area is closely following CDC and State health guidelines for protection against COVID-19. All employees complete a daily health survey, wear face masks in common areas and when they cannot physically distance.

For more information visit www.bogusbasin.org.

Here's an announcement from Zoo Boise: 

Zoo Boise is excited to reopen to the public and Friends of Zoo Boise members on Monday, June 22. We appreciate your patience as our team has worked hard behind the scenes to create a safe experience for all our valued visitors, staff and animals.

“We are grateful for the community’s support over the last three months as we worked to keep our employees and animals safe,” said Doug Holloway, Boise Parks and Recreation director. “Our team looks forward to welcoming guests back to the zoo, and although you will notice some changes, please know your health and safety are always our top priority.” 

Some new protocols to note when visiting the zoo:

Advance tickets will be required for all visitors, including members. The zoo will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. To reduce lines and allow for physical distancing, we have implemented a timed entry process. All visitors, including members, are required to reserve a ticket for a specific time slot to enter the zoo before arrival. Guests will have to enter in the 30-minute block for which their tickets were purchased on the specific date listed. Refunds will not be available, and all tickets must be purchased online in advance. For tickets please visit: https://zooboise.org/online-ticketing/

Prior to entering the zoo, there will be clearly marked waiting lines with markers to promote physical distancing of at least six feet between ticket holders. Please have your pre-purchased tickets either printed off or downloaded to your phone so they may be scanned prior to entering the zoo. Friends of Zoo Boise members, please have your tickets and zoo membership card available.

Once guests enter the zoo, there will be a set, one-way path to walk around the zoo allowing six feet of physical distancing between groups. The one-way path takes approximately two hours to complete. Zoo ambassadors will be stationed along the route to assist and answer any questions you may have.

Please note, there will not be any re-entries into the zoo at this time due to the new guidelines in place.

Some exhibits and activities will not be available when the zoo reopens on Monday, June 22. Notable closures include the Small Animal Kingdom, Penguin Pavilion, Schoolhouse, Bat-House, the zoo carousel and all playground areas. As zoo staff members assess how the new system is working, we will be opening some of these exhibits and activities as we progress, and as health and safety allows. In addition, there will be no animal encounters at this time due to recommendations in regard to animal safety. This includes the Sloth Bear Encounter, the Giraffe Encounter and the Zoo Farm.

Unfortunately, due to timing and the nature of the exhibit, the Butterfly in Bloom exhibit will not be open this season.

Zoo concessions, stroller rentals and an outdoor giftshop will be open with limited operations.

All zoo restrooms will be open, but please note they are spaced out along the one-way walking route. Water fountains will be turned off, so please plan accordingly. There will be hand sanitizing stations available throughout the zoo.

Zoo Boise is asking guests to wear masks when they visit but is not requiring them. This recommendation is being made for the health and safety of zoo guests and staff, and all our animals.

Again, Zoo Boise is excited to welcome visitors back to the zoo and we hope you understand these new measures will continue to be evaluated upon reopening. Thank you for your patience and support. For more information, please call Zoo Boise at 208-608-7760 or visit our website.

June 17

The U.S. Small Business Administration on Wednesday, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, posted a revised, borrower-friendly Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness application implementing the PPP Flexibility Act of 2020, signed into law by President Trump on June 5. In addition to revising the full forgiveness application, SBA also published a new EZ version of the forgiveness application that applies to borrowers that:

· Are self-employed and have no employees; or

· Did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%, and did not reduce the number or hours of their employees; or

· Experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID-19, and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%.

The EZ application requires fewer calculations and less documentation for eligible borrowers. Details regarding the applicability of these provisions are available in the instructions to the new EZ application form.

Both applications give borrowers the option of using the original eight-week covered period (if their loan was made before June 5) or an extended 24-week covered period. These changes will result in a more efficient process and make it easier for businesses to realize full forgiveness of their PPP loan.

Click here to view the EZ Forgiveness Application. Click here to view the Full Forgiveness Application.

GoGo squeeZ announced Monday it has teamed up with nonprofit Move For Hunger to help get nutritional food where it was needed. Using the squeeZ squad, over three weeks, GoGo squeeZ and Move For Hunger have donated to:

  • Boise, Caldwell, Meridian and Nampa school districts
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County
  • Salvation Army

St. Luke’s hospital is scheduled to receive a donation.

Republic Services announced it has launched “Committed to Serve,” a $20 million initiative to provide all of Republic Services’ 28,000 frontline employees a weekly meal, a weekly dinner for employees and their families and bi-weekly $100 gift cards ($400 per employee) to be spent locally. All meals will be purchased from local, small businesses to help support Republic Services’ customers and the communities it serves.

“The reaction from small business owners and employees has been gratitude," Rachele Klein, with Republic Services, said in a press release. "The restaurant owners and their teams are willing to work through the night to have our meals ready by 5:30 a.m. Additionally, our employees feel a sense of pride being able to give back to the local community they serve.”

For more information visit RepublicServices.com/CommittedToServe.

The COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund for Idaho announced it has approved its third week of grants totaling nearly $825,000 for organizations throughout Idaho that are helping low-income individuals and families experiencing homelessness or housing instability, food insecurity and/or domestic violence, along with those in need of physical or mental healthcare, and childcare.

In southwest Idaho, according to the website, high-need grants will go to the following organizations:

  • Advocates Against Family Violence — $23,400 for increased staff hours, better technology and essentials for the shelter and learning center, including diapers, paper products and more. 
  • Interfaith Sanctuary Housing Services — $22,940 to help cover the cost of increased staffing at two locations, which serve homeless guests with support, services, nutrition and safe day and night shelter. 
  • International Rescue Committee — $25,000 to provide emergency rental assistance for refugee families. 
  • ROSE Advocates — $25,000 to assist victim of abuse in rural Adams, Boise, Gem, Payette, Valley and Washington counties with rent, utilities, food, emergency shelter, medications/doctor visits and other essentials. 

One organization received a grant for its statewide efforts:

Community Council of Idaho — $25,000 for rental or mortgage assistance, food boxes for individuals and families and employment assistance for those who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. CC Idaho is the largest nonprofit serving Latinos in Idaho. 

The COVID-19 Fund for Idaho received significant support from foundations, companies and individuals throughout Idaho. Lead Funding Partners are: Micron Foundation and Micron’s Boise team members, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Wells Fargo Foundation and Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health.

To give: www.idahocf.org/covid-19. All donations received will go to organizations helping those in need.

Cleanup & Total Restoration is donating its services to disinfect five Boise Rescue Mission Ministries facilities through electrostatic spraying technology with registered EPA disinfectants, the company announced April 21. More information about the disinfectant technique is available 208-377-1877 or www.ctr-nw.com.

Good News Pantry in Nampa is continuing to operate the first and third Wednesday of every month from 4-6 p.m., but now with curbside service. Residents are able to drive up at 1203 Seventh St. N. Nampa and receive a box of food. Those with questions can call 208-477-8600. Next event is May 6. Donations are appreciated and can be made through the Good News Pantry Facebook page

Fork and ALAVITA have partnered with the Ronald McDonald House to feed families with a child in NICU or the pediatric unit. The partnership, Meals To Unite, is organized by Lauren and Nick Flores. Roughly 50 meals are provided per day. To make a donation, please visit the Meals To Unite GoFundMe Page. For every meal that is delivered, Fork and ALAVITA will donate 10% of proceeds to a nonprofit organization.

"We feel grateful to our friends Lauren & Nick for including us in their 'initiative for good' by helping those most in need in our community," Cameron and Amanda Lumsden, owners of Fork and ALAVITA, said in a press release. The Ronald McDonald House does such important work. Due to the current climate, they're unable to have volunteers and are especially in need of assistance. It is vital we all work together to keep that going."

First responders and health care workers can receive a free “Thank You Meal" day or night at participating McDonald's drive-thru locations. Health care workers, police officers, firefighters and paramedics can show their work badge and choose one of the specified free meal options per day.

Breakfast: A choice of an Egg McMuffin, Chicken McGriddles or a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit. All options come with any size soft drink, tea or hot coffee and a Hash Brown.

Lunch and Dinner: A choice of a Double Cheeseburger, 6-Piece Chicken McNuggets or a Filet-O-Fish. All options come with any size soft drink, tea or hot coffee and small fries.

“As local business owners, we know that our communities need us now more than ever and we’re committed to continuing to serve them,” Dick Darmody, a McDonald's owner/operator said in a press release. “We are proud to be able support our neighbors who are on the frontlines as first responders and healthcare workers with Thank You Meals.”

Treasure Valley Allstate agency owners announced they are donating $20,000 to the Idaho Foodbank in honor of National Volunteer Week. Allstate agency owners across Idaho are thanking foodbank volunteers for their unwavering support of local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 10 agencies will be virtually volunteering with the Idaho Foodbank this week to secure the Allstate Foundation Helping Hands Grant, which is the equivalent of 100,000 meals for local families, according to a press release.

“During a time like this where our communities are facing a crisis, I am proud to help an organization like the Idaho Foodbank, whose employees and volunteers have been working tirelessly to ensure families don’t go without food,” Allstate agent Eric Jeglum said in the release. “I’m so grateful to be a part of a community that is willing to come together during an uncertain time to help create some stability for families.”

The Village at Meridian is offering its property and security for free for local high schoolers to host their proms later this year that may have been canceled due to coronavirus. According to Sophia Hartsock, spokesperson for The Village, the outdoor shopping mall will shut down its streets for five nights this summer to allow all 11 West Ada High Schools to attend prom there. Hartsock said The Village fountain will be choreographed with lights and music.

Indian Creek Plaza is offering hold senior prom for high schools in the Treasure Valley at the plaza for free. Administrators or prom planning committee members are invited to contact Indian Creek Plaza for more information: https://www.indiancreekplaza.com/contact.

Almost $1 billion in funding from the federal CARES Act will support older adults and people with disabilities. The Administration for Community Living, under the Department of Health and Human Services, will provide $955 million in grants for home-delivered meals, care services in the home, respite care and other support to families and caregivers, information about and referral to supports, and more. Idaho's share of that will be $5,220,661.

Older adults who need assistance can contact the Eldercare Locator to find services available in their community. The Eldercare Locator toll-free number is 1-800-677-1116 or you can visit eldercare.acl.gov. People with disabilities can find their local Center for Independent Living at www.ilru.org/projects/cil-net/cil-center-and-association-directory. In addition, the Eldercare Locator can help people with disabilities find their local Aging and Disability Resource Center.

Bronco Motors has donated $10,000 to St. Luke’s Health Foundation to help buy thermal scanners, which help detect elevated temperatures, a common symptom of COVID-19. Money will also go toward a virtual “Kid For A Night” event. More information will come soon on St. Luke’s Virtual Kid For a Night event which will be held Friday, June 5, according to a press release.

“It’s the responsibility of our business to support people and businesses like St. Luke’s who are on the front-lines of COVID-19 in keeping our communities safe,” Grant Petersen Jr., president and CEO of Bronco Motors Family of Dealerships, said in the press release.

A Giving Circle INC announced it has created a community-wide donation fund to rapidly help local businesses. The goal is to raise $50,000 over the next 8-10 weeks. Since the fund was established in early April, over $10,000 has been raised. Every week on Friday A Giving Circle will give between $1,000 and $5,000 to a local business in need. The next donation will be made April 24. Anyone who wishes to make a donation or nominate a local business is encouraged to go to www.CovidAidBoise.com, or visit A Giving Circle’s Facebook page Small business selections will be prioritized for emergency funding based on need, urgency and overall community impact. The first donations were $2,500 each to Big City Coffee and Guru Donuts.

”It is the opinion of the Board for A Giving Circle that we must act quickly in order to provide local businesses the support they need to weather the storm brought on by this virus,” Nick Schlekeway, president, stated in a press release. “Our community cannot afford to wait until later in the year and we cannot afford to take the time in preparing for a traditional auction-gala.”

Idaho Humane Society has opened a pet food pantry program through a grant from GreaterGood.org. The program intends to provide pet food assistance to not only individuals affected by COVID-19 in the Treasure Valley, but also as a pet food bank for shelters and organizations across Idaho, Idaho Humane Society announced in a press release. The Pet Food Pantry is a year-round safety-net program designed primarily to provide resources to struggling pet owners in need of assistance through a monthly distribution. Owners needing assistance can sign up for the program online. Applicants may email pfp@idahohumanesociety.org if they can’t make it during our upcoming distribution dates at the Dorman shelter, 4775 Dorman St.:

  • Wednesday, April 29 3–5 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 3 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 27 3–5 p.m.
  • Sunday, June 14 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 24 3–5 p.m.

“We’re honored to extend a helping hand to our friends and neighbors across Idaho who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and look forward to assisting even more families and animals through this generous grant,” Kristine Schellhaas, communications manager at the Idaho Humane Society, said in the press release.

If community members would like to contribute to the Pet Food Pantry or would like more information visit: https://idahohumanesociety.org.

The Idaho State Department of Education announced it is offering USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grants to local elementary schools that operate the National School Lunch Program and have more than 50% of enrolled students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Applications are due May 8 and can be found at www.sde.idaho.gov/events/awards-grants.html or by calling Child Nutrition Programs at 208-332-6820. Selected schools will receive the grants from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021. Schools will be awarded $50 to $75 per student for the school year to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables for the program.

Motorfest 2020 Canceled: The annual 2020 Geico Treasure Valley Motorfest scheduled for July 11-12 has been canceled. However, the raffling of a 2020 Pace Journey 20-foot enclosed trailer will still be held, on Aug. 22, with proceeds benefiting the Idaho Veterans and the Boise Rescue Mission Ministries. Learn more at MotorfestBoise.com. “This was an extremely difficult decision to make, but the event management determined this is the right decision and the most responsible action to take to insure the health and safety of the community during this time,” event organizers stated in the press release.

Hyde Perk Coffee House in Boise is among the first nine recipients of the Community Grant Program offered through the dating app Bumble. The grant program was developed to support local businesses around the globe during the pandemic, Bumble stated.

‘Classroom Idaho’: Idaho Public Television’s “Classroom Idaho: Learn @ Home” programming starts Monday, a resource geared toward families without computers or internet access. Certified Idaho teachers will provide instruction to students grades 3-6 via Idaho Public Television’s Create channel (digital channel .3). Instruction begins at 8 a.m. for third-graders, with the next grade beginning every hour through noon. The instruction will be aligned with what the students would be learning if they could still be attending their brick-and-mortar schools. The same lesson plans also will be available in playlists for students with connectivity at IdahoPTV’s YouTube channel. The effort is a partnership among IdahoPTV, the State Board of Education and Idaho Business for Education.

Jannus Economic Opportunity has launched the Sunshine Sponsor Program, a financial resource for individuals and businesses in the Treasure and Magic valleys. Jannus Economic Opportunity’s emergency bridge loan inquiries have increased 260% since March, according to the press release, so the organization has created a new financial assistance program. Jannus Economic Opportunity is an Idaho nonprofit that helps individuals meet emergency financial needs, provides support to launch and grow local businesses, and champions tomorrow’s leaders through loan funds, one-on-one coaching, social work, mentoring and training classes. Donations can be made and more information is available online.

Walmart announced it is launching a Pickup hour for people most at-risk for COVID-19. Each day the hour from 7 to 8 a.m. at select pickup store locations will be reserved for customers over the age of 60, as well as first responders, customers with disabilities and anyone designated high-risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pickup associates are also following enhanced distancing and sanitation procedures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Customers open their trunk, and associates load groceries in, with no need to sign for the order. Customers will see a new prompt on Walmart.com/grocery that displays the qualifications for selecting the slot listed as ‘At Risk Only.’

The COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund for Idaho has approved nearly $300,000 for organizations throughout Idaho that are helping low-income individuals and families experiencing homelessness or housing instability, food insecurity and/or domestic violence, along with those in need of physical or mental health care, and child care.

Grants will be made every week in April. In Southwest Idaho, the first round of high-need grants will go to:

Boise Public Schools Education Foundation — $25,000 for the Student Aid Fund for Emergencies for families.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Ada County — $25,000 to cover costs related to caring for nearly 200 youth each day.

Cascade Food Pantry — $2,000 for supplies to provide food boxes.

CATCH — $25,000 to provide rental assistance for Canyon County families.

Jesse Tree — $25,000 to assist families at risk from eviction from rental housing.

Women’s and Children’s Alliance — $18,425 to continue providing help to those seeking WCA services through shelters, programs and the court system.

Two organizations will receive grants for their statewide efforts. Jannus, Inc., will receive funding for the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline and Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children will receive funding to create a Temporary Assistance Grant Program for child care providers that don’t receive financial assistance from the state and are at risk of closing due to financial constraints.

Donations can be made and more information is available at www.idahocf.org/covid-19.

Two GoFundMe pagesFeed the Frontline — Treasure Valley and Feed The Treasure Valley Front Line — are raising money to purchase meals from local businesses then donate those meals to health care workers and emergency responders. Donations can be made online.

Feed the Frontline — Treasure Valley, organized by Lucas O’Neill and Courtney Smith, was created March 24 and has raised $2,625.

Feed The Treasure Valley Front Line, organized by Team Owen, was created April 4 and has raised $6,092. Team Owen states they delivered meals at the Boise Police Department, Emergency Responders Health Center, Kuna Rural Fire District, St. Luke’s Meridian Emergency Department, Nampa Fire Station, and St. Luke’s Nampa Emergency Department.

Telehealth for mental health care: Many mental health providers are now offering telehealth services over the phone or through a virtual meeting online, the Idaho Psychological Association announced. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in March changed its rules to allow billing for telephone and video visits. Find more information at idahopsych.org.

Team Mazda Subaru is offering free oil changes to first responders and front-workers helping communities battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Police officers, firefighters, nurses, doctors and other health care workers qualify for this offer, up to two per household.

”These people are working hard and risking their personal health for the rest of us,” Team Mazda Subaru General Rob Studebaker said in a press release. “If a simple thing like changing the oil in their cars gives them more reliable transportation and one less thing to worry about, then we want to help.”

The dealership is also offering pick-up and delivery service to the owners’ home or place of work. To schedule an appointment, call Team Mazda Subaru (Nampa/Caldwell/Boise) before April 30 at 208-455-0322 or 1-800-NEXT-CAR.

Idaho health carriers have been collaborating with the Idaho Department of Insurance to provide relief for Idahoans during the COVID-19 pandemic. All five major health insurance carriers in Idaho are waiving cost-sharing for both testing and treatment. Those are Blue Cross of Idaho, Regence, SelectHealth, Pacific Source, and Mountain Health Co-Op.

Idaho’s carriers have also improved telehealth options, assisted Your Health Idaho with expedited enrollment procedures, and are assisting physicians and hospitals financially.

The Department of Insurance is also working with carriers that offer short-term health insurance and inviting them to waive cost-sharing for testing and treatment. Two Idaho insurers, Blue Cross of Idaho and SelectHealth, voluntarily are doing so. Others are waiving cost-sharing for testing and reviewing the DOI’s requests.

Consumers who have questions or concerns should reach out to the DOI at consumeraffairs@doi.idaho.gov or visit doi.idaho.gov/consumer/Health/COVID.

First Interstate Bank donated $25,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Ada County and the Boys & Girls Club of Nampa to help children and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canceled: The Fruitland Alumni Reunion Committee has canceled the June 2020 All-School reunion because of the coronavirus outbreak. The committee will take a recess until September and then begin planning for a reunion on June 25-27, 2021. High school classes of 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1971 will be honored at the 2021 reunion.

Sparklight announced it has donated $300,000 in support of COVID-19 relief. Sparklight and the other Cable One family of brands have donated $150,000 to the Meals on Wheels America COVID-19 Response Fund. Donations to local food banks, including a $20,000 donation to the Western Idaho Food Bank in Boise, have also been made.

“Sparklight has set an example for others by helping us to ensure America’s vulnerable seniors will continue to receive the meals they desperately need amid this national crisis,” Kristine Templin, chief development officer for Meals on Wheels America, said in a press release.

This week The Salvation Army Treasure Valley Corps provided food boxes to 1,195 families, including through home delivery.

Boise’s drive-thru food service is available noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday. Mondays and Fridays are utilized to sanitize and restock the food pantry. We have a food delivery service available in Ada County. The Salvation Army Treasure Valley Corps also offers assistance with utilities. For more information call 208-343-5429.

The Nampa Salvation Army has extended its Emergency Community Family Shelter to currently housed residents through the end of May and is committed to housing needs during the Covid-19 crisis. The Day Resource Center is continuing to provide Grab & Go lunches daily at 1412 Fourth St. S.from 11:30 a.m. to noon. The Nampa Food Pantry will continue to distribute food boxes Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 403 12th Ave. S. Nampa. We are distributing boxes at the door. The Nampa Corps serves the cities of Nampa, Homedale, Huston, Marsing, Melba and Murphy. For questions, please contact The Salvation Army Nampa office at 208-467-6586.

Caldwell’s drive-thru pantry continues 1-3:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, and food and toiletries boxes and games and crafts continue to be be delivered. Diapers and wipes are available as requested through the food pantry hours as well. Utility assistance is also amiable in Caldwell. Call 208-459-2011.

”The Salvation Army in Boise, Nampa and Caldwell needs your support to be able to continue to provide needed services throughout this pandemic,” the organization stated in a press release. “Because we are being called to go above and beyond in this time of need, we anticipate a greater need for funding to maintain our service to the community. We anticipate a significant increase in emergency assistance for low-wage employees who may be temporarily laid off due to the coronavirus.”

This could include rent or mortgage and utility assistance. For more information visit: https://salarmy.us/COVID-19Services.

Fred Meyer will limit the number of customers to 50% of the international building code’s calculated capacity to allow for proper physical distancing in every store. As an illustration, the standard building capacity for a grocery store is one person per 60 square feet; the change would increase that to one per 120 square feet. This is to compliment other safety measures, including protective face masks and gloves for associates, adding plexiglass partitions and waived delivery fees for prescriptions.


Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is offering to connect residents who have had an unexpected significant change in income that may be ongoing for the foreseeable future. Information about the SNAP benefits food program, meal delivery for seniors, help with health insurance and more are available through this resource. Call 1-877-456-1233 or visit www.livebetteridaho.org.

AARP Community Connections is a new online platform — www.aarpcommunityconnections.org — that will allow users to organize and find local volunteer groups to help pick up groceries, provide financial assistance or lend emotional support to neighbors, friends and loved ones. Users are able to request a call from an AARP volunteer, or a trained counselor, among other services. AARP Community Connections is free to use, and AARP membership is not required.

Idaho 2-1-1 CareLine is a program of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare that provides a robust database offering free or low-cost programs and services such as social services, medical assistance, food and clothing, daycare options, emergency shelter and more.

United Way of Treasure Valley has created a Community Resource Page, in partnership with dozens of local entities, highlighting housing assistance, childcare assistance, health care, resources for educators and parents, transportation assistance, and more. Visit www.unitedwaytv.org.


The Idaho Foodbank is collaborating with Boise Centre and the Idaho National Guard to build special food boxes for Idaho children. Normally these students would receive a special package of food every Friday as part of Idaho Food Bank’s Backpack Program, a bag of nutritious food to help get children through the weekend. These prepared food boxes contain the equivalent of five backpacks built by the Idaho National Guard and civilian volunteers, Boise Centre announced in a press release. Boise Centre is also providing the Idaho Foodbank warehouse and volunteer space the entire month of April. The Idaho Foodbank can be contacted at 208-336-9643.

Boise Farmers Market will open as a drive-thru farmers market at 1500 Shoreline Drive Saturday, April 11. Online pickup window reservations and online ordering are now available, Boise Farmers Market announced Tuesday in a press release. The Boise Farmers Market drive-thru will allow our customers to shop online from the beginning of the day Monday thru the end of the day Wednesday, then pick up their order on Saturday during their chosen pickup window. Customer capacity is 400 orders during the first week. At this time only essential foods such as produce, meat, eggs, dairy, bread and pasta will be offered. More information is available at https://theboisefarmersmarket.com.

Care House Partnerships Food Bank continues to be open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 12:30-4 p.m. at 1524 Sixth St. S. in Nampa.

The Boys & Girls Clubs will serve grab-and-go breakfast and lunch to any child ages 1-18 while supplies last at locations in Boise, Garden City, Meridian and Nampa. Find out more at www.adaclubs.org.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Ada County also has sites for emergency child care relief amid the COVID-19 crisis for health care workers, first responders and essential personnel. All-day child care services (7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays) will cost $6 per day. Enrollment for children of health care workers, first responders and essential personnel is also available at any of the Clubs located in Boise, Meridian, Garden City and Kuna. Go to www.adaclubs.org to find contact information for the Clubs.

The Boise School District is offering free grab-and-go meals at six sites 11 a.m. to noon weekdays. The school district has also added busing meals to families around the same time. Visit https://www.boiseschools.org for more information.

The Caldwell School District will offer free meals for children from 10-11 a.m. through Friday at schools and parks. The child must be present to receive meals and does not have to be a Caldwell School District student. Adults may buy a sack meal for $4. Locations are listed at caldwellschools.org.

Canyon Springs High School food pantry, 516 N. 11th Ave., Caldwell will still be available to students, according to Caldwell School District’s Facebook page. Please email lvelasquez@caldwellschools.org to arrange a time.

Big Box Outlet Store at 352 Caldwell Blvd. in Nampa is offering free lunch for school-age children from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.

Kuna School District will offer free, grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches for children weekdays until schools reopen. Pick up is from 11 a.m. to noon at Ross Elementary, Reed Elementary and Kuna High School. Children do not need to be enrolled in the district to receive a free meal, but they need to be present to receive it.

The Nampa School District is serving free meals at sites from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. weekdays. The school district is now busing meals to families as well. Visit https://www.nsd131.org for more information.

West Ada School District is offering free breakfast & lunch combo meals for children ages 1-18. Meals will be provided 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays via drive-thru in school bus lanes and a designated area in front of the school for walk-up Grab-N-Go meals. Children must be present to receive a free meal; parents may not pick up free meals for their children. If a parent would like to pick up additional meals for children not present at pick up s $5 per combo meal charge will be applied. Exact change is required.

Meals on Wheels “curbside” meals at senior centers: Though senior centers throughout the Treasure Valley are temporarily closed, Metro Meals on Wheels will continue to provide “curbside” meals there.

Seniors in Boise and Meridian can still pick up lunch with curbside service offered from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays at Boise’s Dick Eardley Senior Center, 690 Robbins Road, and the Meridian Senior Center, 1920 N. Records Way.

Seniors in Caldwell and Nampa are asked to call 208-459-0132 (if in Caldwell) or 208-467-7266 (if in Nampa) beginning at 7 a.m. Tuesday to order. Residents are encouraged to “keep trying” if the line is busy. Meals will be available for pickup at the Caldwell Senior Center, 1009 Everett St., and the Nampa Senior Center, 207 Constitution Way, Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for a suggested donation of $4 for those 60 and over, and a $5 charge for under 60.

Meals On Wheels delivery will continue to be delivered to seniors in Canyon County at the usual time each day. Meals will be placed in a plastic bag with handles and hung on the door of the residence. After knocking or ringing the doorbell, the deliverer will wait to be sure that the meal is taken inside. For more information contact 208-454-8142.


COVID-19 Response Fund for Idaho: www.idahocf.org/covid-19. Created in partnership through The Idaho Community Foundation, United Way of Treasure Valley and Idaho Nonprofit Center.

The American Red Cross is facing a blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations, the website states. Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood. Visit redcross.org for information.

Metro Meals on Wheels: metromealsonwheels.net.

The Salvation Army: boise.salvationarmy.org.

PMR Gives Back, the charitable arm of Premier Mortgage Resources LLC in Meridian, has launched an outreach campaign to help those who are struggling in the Boise area as a result of COVID-19. The charity will match financial donations, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000 to feed as many families as possible through the Idaho Foodbank. The drive will launch as soon as the stay-at-home order is lifted. In addition, Christopher Bruce, a loan officer with Premier Mortgage Resources, is organizing STEM packages and book donations for students, which are being distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis to families in need at local schools. For more information visit pmrloans.com/giveback.

West Valley Humane Society in Canyon County is reaching out to the public with concerns about how the COVID-19 outbreak will impact animal welfare and people’s ability to adopt a pet or afford their pet’s needs. The shelter is accepting donations at westvalleyhumanesociety.org/COVID.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently advising residents to obtain or make a face covering from cloth, such as from old shirts or bandannas, and wear it when going out in public places, such as the grocery store or pharmacy, especially in areas where there is significant community-based transmission. The CDC maintains surgical masks or N95 respirators must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders. More information about why wearing a cloth face covering is recommended and how to make one is available at https://www.cdc.gov and in the April 7 edition of the Idaho Press.

Idaho State University announced it is now offering mental health services through video conferencing. Through a Community Health Improvement Fund grant from St. Luke’s Hospital, Idaho State’s Meridian campus was able to obtain required telehealth certification and laptop computers for virtual counseling sessions. The grant will also cover regional travel and project evaluation. To reach the Meridian Counseling Clinic call 208-373-1719 or visit www.isu.edu/clinics/counseling-meridian.

Healthwise is a local nonprofit health education company. It has created a COVID-19 resource center with plain language, evidence-based articles, videos, infographics, and more. The website is at healthwise.org.

The Idaho Office of the Attorney General has information about seeing and reporting COVID-19 related scams, Idaho’s Price Gauging Law, frequently asked questions about the law and more on the website: ag.idaho.gov/office-resources/covid-19.

Business loans: Idaho small businesses impacted by coronavirus can now access federal disaster loans. Small businesses, private nonprofit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the coronavirus since Jan. 31, 2020, may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met if the disaster had not occurred. The deadline to apply is Dec. 21, 2020. For more information, commerce.idaho.gov/covid-19.

Caldwell city officials have collaborated to offer additional support to local businesses. By working with local businesses, Caldwell officials hope to provide assistance where they need it, such as temporarily changing right-of-way laws, modifying parking spaces or changing signage to ensure easier pickup for customers. Businesses are encouraged to contact the Caldwell City Clerk, Debbie Geyer, for questions and assistance that they would deem the most helpful: dgeyer@cityofcaldwell.org.

Blue Cross of Idaho has waived all member cost-sharing for testing and treatment of COVID-19. The expansion covers cost-share treatment received through June 30, and is offered at no additional premium cost.

Idaho Humane Society has launched a Stray Pets online portal that shows animals brought in from the public and humane society officers. These animals are being housed at the Idaho Humane Society.

The Idaho Youth Ranch is now offering video therapy options for new and existing clients, and telephone options for families without access to internet or video-capable devices. Idaho Youth Ranch is continuing to take new clients, according to the press release. To schedule an appointment, call the help line at 208-947-0863 or request an appointment online at www.youthranch.org/get-help. Idaho Youth Ranch is asking the public to stop dropping donations at thrift stores’ back doors during the COVID-19 crisis as employees are not on site.

West Valley Humane Society is moving to adoptions by appointment only. Start the process at westvalleyhumanesociety.org/adoptions. Once the adoption application is submitted, West Valley Humane Society will connect to schedule a visit. Multiple adopters will not be in the building at one time.

Please note: All resources will continue to be assessed and updated as more information about the novel coronavirus becomes available.

The Idaho Press is offering free online access to local coronavirus stories. Our ongoing coverage of the Treasure Valley relies on the generous support from our readers. To strengthen local journalism, please consider subscribing at iptoffers.com. For daily updates in your inbox, sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter.

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