Gov pc 6-25-20

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Idaho will extend its Stage 4 reopening and not move on to the final stage, Gov. Brad Little announced today; it hasn't met its criteria to move on, he said. He also announced a transition to a regional response to COVID-19, rather than statewide. "The statewide approach to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 three months ago was the right thing to do," the governor said. "Three months ago, testing and contact tracing was limited, some areas of Idaho faced alarming health care capacity constraints, and there wasn't enough personal protective equipment on hand for businesses and health care workers. But from the start, our plan was to eventually transition to a more regional approach in our response, and that's what we've begun."

Already, Central District Health has moved Ada County back from Stage 4 to Stage 3 and ordered bars to close, after crowded bars on a warm June weekend in downtown Boise were tied to a a widespread outbreak of the coronavirus, as new infections ballooned in the Treasure Valley, statewide, and among health care workers.

Each of the four stages in the governor's economic reopening plan was contingent upon meeting various criteria including decreasing cases or positive test rates; preserving available health care capacity; and limiting infections among health care workers.

"Idaho did not meet the criteria ... to advance past Stage 4," the state announced in a news release, as Little announced the news at a press conference in the Capitol's Lincoln Auditorium. "The number of reported cases from June 10-25 trended upward instead of downward, the percent of positive tests from June 8-21 trended upward instead of downward, and the average percent positive for the prior 14-day period was greater than 5%, at 5.12%. In addition, the number of health care workers reported with COVID-19 from June 10-23 trended upward, and the average number of health care workers reported having COVID-19 per day was greater than the standard of two."

Yesterday alone, Idaho tallied 22 new infections among health care workers. It also set a new record for coronavirus infections on Wednesday, with 243 new cases statewide — eclipsing the previous high of 222 on April 2. Wednesday's new cases included 223 lab-confirmed and 20 classified as "probable," which means they're people exposed to a lab-confirmed case who show the same symptoms, but who haven't been tested.

Of the new cases, 101 were in Ada County, which also set a new record. That brings Ada's tally to 1,484 coronavirus cases to date; statewide, the tally is 4,645, according to the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare. Canyon County reported 52 new cases on Wednesday, for a total of 546 to date.

Idaho has seen 90 deaths from the virus to date; the most recent came yesterday in Ada County.

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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