Gov Little press conf low res 3-19-20

Gov. Brad Little speaks at a press conference in his office on Thursday, March 19, 2020, announcing that community spread has helped push confirmed coronavirus cases in Blaine County up to 16, including two health care workers.

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Gov. Brad Little just announced that with the community spread of coronavirus in Blaine County, that county now is reporting 16 cases of COVID-19, including two in health care workers. That figure is inclusive of the five already reported, so it’s 11 new cases. “At this time, it does not appear that community spread in Blaine County is widespread,” Little said at a news conference at the state Capitol. “My office and members of my coronavirus working group are fully engaged with South Central Public Health District, Blaine County commissioners and the mayors int eh area to ensure a strong response is in place.”

“Our No. 1 priority is to slow the spread of the virus in that community and outside it,” the governor said. “To ensure that happens, the director of the Department of Health & Welfare will issue an isolation order for residents in that area. We are still working on the details, and the residents will still have essential services available to them, such as access to grocery stores and, of course, healthcare.”

Little said he remains “firm in my commitment” that Idaho’s response to coronavirus will be “based on science, not fear.”

“Idaho is an expansive and geographically diverse state,” he said. “Science and common sense tell us that planning the response efforts in one part of the state may not be the best approach in another part of the state. That is why I initially resisted statewide closures of schools or other establishments. However, I do recognize the majority of Idaho students are out of school right now based on closure decisions at the local level.”

He said he’ll continue to work with education officials “in the coming days and weeks” to ensure that Idaho meets its constitutional requirement to provide a thorough and uniform education to schoolkids across the state. “Remote delivery of education services needs to occur as uniformly as possible in every corner of the state during this time of uncertainty,” Little said.

“Most of all, I continue to urge Idahoans to take care of each other,” he said.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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