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Wednesday, May 27

As part of his staged plans to reopen Idaho during the pandemic, Gov. Little Wednesday released new guidelines for public gatherings.

The plans were developed by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and local public health districts. They give guidelines for how businesses should go about planning events.  

“We’re dealing with an unexpected disease that can show very mild or nonexistent symptoms in some people and have devastating effects on others, and we all must do our part to protect others by following these measures,” Gov. Little said in a press release about the guidelines. “In the coming months, our personal actions in following the recommended guidance and protocols will help us protect lives, preserve healthcare capacity, and rebound our economy more quickly.”

The base guidelines for events is similar to the social distancing guidelines that have been in place for the last couple of months: wear masks if possible, stay at home if you feel ill, disinfect surfaces and hands as often as possible and try to keep at least six feet between you and other people. They are also recommending that all events be held outdoors if possible. 

Each stage of Idaho Rebounds reopening plan has specific guidelines to follow, however. For a detailed list, visit the section on business-specific protocols for opening on rebound.idaho.gov.

Wednesday, May 20

As St. Luke’s Health System shifts from its initial COVID-19 response to a longer-term strategy for serving patients throughout the pandemic, it will be closing screening and specimen collection tents and transitioning the service to selected clinics.

The tents close at 4 p.m. Friday, May 22, and screening services will be available in select clinic settings beginning Saturday, May 23. Patients with COVID-19 symptoms will be directed to the following St. Luke’s care facilities for screening and specimen collection during each clinic’s regular operating hours: 

  • Boise: St. Luke’s Clinic – Family Medicine at 701 E. Parkcenter Blvd.
  • Jerome: St. Luke’s Clinic – Jerome Family Medicine at 132 5th Ave. W.
  • Magic Valley: St. Luke’s Quick Care at 775 Pole Line Rd. W.
  • Meridian: St. Luke’s Clinic – Ada Medical Associates at Portico East, 3399 E. Louise Dr.
  • Wood River: St. Luke’s Clinic – Family Medicine in Hailey at 1450 Aviation Dr.

As always, safety is the highest priority. St. Luke’s is taking extra precautions to protect patients and staff from infection. If someone thinks they might have symptoms of COVID-19 or may have been exposed, they should first use St. Luke’s self-triage tool to help determine what to do next. The self-triage tool does not substitute for advice from a primary care provider.

  • Note: Patients will be required to login to myChart to access the tool. If they don’t have a myChart account, they can create one here.
  • If self-triage indicates that a patient should be tested, they will be able to schedule an appointment right in myChart with one of the clinics listed above.
  • If patients need to visit the emergency department to treat severe symptoms, they should call ahead to their local facility and ask for a protective face mask upon arrival.
  • They may also call St. Luke’s COVID-19 hotline for instructions or assistance at 208-381-9500.

Once an appointment is scheduled, the patient will be instructed to drive to the clinic at their designated appointment time and stay in their car rather than enter the clinic. St. Luke’s staff will meet the patient in the parking lot to complete screening and specimen collection.

It is important to note that the community will likely see waves of COVID-19 activity for weeks and months to come. St. Luke’s is making this shift so it’s better able to adapt to evolving demand over time. St. Luke’s will continue to monitor its communities’ testing needs and is prepared to quickly open additional screening and specimen collection locations, if needed.

Tuesday, May 19

Officials are asking drivers to use online sources when accessing services from departments of motor vehicles to help ease the backlog caused by the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Data from the Idaho Transportation Department show a backlog service of more than 40,000 driver’s license and identification card customers, 50,000 vehicle registrations and 10,000 vehicle titles statewide, according to a news release the department sent Tuesday. 

“Idahoans are encouraged to renew their license and/or vehicle registration online, and help reduce wait times by allowing room at county DMV offices for customers who cannot complete services online,” according to the release. “Drivers will also be reminded to renew online by roadside digital message boards across the state.”

Drivers can access the department’s website at itd.idaho.gov, in order to save space and time in county offices for people who cannot complete services online.

Expanded online services include:

  • Renewing your license/ID
  • Purchasing a replacement license/ID
  • Purchasing your driving record
  • Renewing vehicle registration
  • Ordering personalized plates

Licenses and registrations that would have expired between March 1 and May 30 now have until June 30 to renew, according to the release. The federal deadline of obtain a Star Card-REAL ID has been pushed back a year, to Oct. 1, 2021, according to the release.

Friday, May 15

Nampa will open up its playgrounds Saturday, the start of the state's Stage 2 of reopening. Park restrooms opened May 1. Park users are asked to stay 6 feet from anyone not in their household, and to avoid park facilities if sick. 

The Nampa Recreation Center will reopen at 8 a.m. Saturday and resume regular hours, though not all services will be provided that were customary prior to the closing for the coronavirus.

The Nampa Senior Center will continue to provide curbside pickup for lunches, but the dining area will remain closed at this time. 

City of Nampa staff will continue to assist customers remotely through online services or via phone. A city press release states, "While not required, we encourage residents visiting our facilities to wear face coverings."

Thursday, May 14

Gov. Brad Little announced the state would advance to Stage 2 of reopening on Saturday. Find details here.

Wednesday, May 13

Tamarack Resort has received approval from Central District Health for its phased reopening beginning on Saturday, May 16.

Starting Saturday, Tamarack will resume its dining and lodging services and will also open its meadow hiking and biking trails for complimentary use while encouraging appropriate social distancing. Tamarack’s recently opened retail outlets, including the Clearwater Coffee Shop and Village Market and Deli, will also reopen with enhanced health and safety protocols. Construction on The Village at Tamarack will resume, including real estate tours of the Village residential units and the real estate gallery. Additional activities will resume on the following dates:

May 21: Scenic lift rides on Tamarack Express

May 22 (Memorial Day Weekend): Waterfront Cabana motorized & non-motorized boat rentals

May 28: Lift-served mountain biking (dependent on mid-mountain snow melt)

June 6: Tamarack Zipline Tours (dependent on mid-mountain snow melt)

Mid-June: Guided whitewater rafting trips on the Cabarton stretch of the North Fork of the Payette River.

For all recreation updates, guests are encouraged to visit TamarackIdaho.com for the latest days and hours of operations, and to pre-book excursions.

Tuesday, May 12

If you are a registered voter in Idaho, requesting a ballot is as easy as filling out a postcard and putting it in the mail.

On Tuesday, the Idaho Secretary of State's Office reminded voters that in order to receive a ballot for the May primary election all they need to do is take the mailer they received, open it, sign it and put it in the mailbox. It is already addressed to public officials and postage is already paid so no stamps are necessary.

Ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. June 2, when results will be counted.

“Over the last week, we’ve seen some voters who have put their ballot request form in an envelope and mailed it to the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office,” Chad Houck, Idaho’s Chief Deputy Secretary said in a press release. “We are rerouting all of the ballot request forms we’ve received to the appropriate county elections office in order to make sure voters receive their ballots in time for the upcoming election."

No envelope is required because the postcard by itself is enough to request the ballot. If you have already requested your ballot online or with a paper form, a second request is not necessary.

Over 550,000 ballot request forms were sent statewide, but only less than 200 were returned improperly.

Tuesday, May 12

Treasure Valley YMCAs are set to reopen May 26 but some restrictions will still be in place, according to a press release by the organization.

For one, the reopening is limited to only weight and cardio rooms. The other parts of the facility will open in later stages, following Gov. Little's reopening guidelines. These include pools, youth programs, and group exercise activities.

Two, the locations are adding several hand sanitizing stations as well as asking patrons and employees to closely monitor their health and stay home if they have any COVID-19 symptoms.

“We are eager to open our doors and serve the community, and to do this, we are squarely focused on how to make the Y a healthy and safe place for all,” said David Duro, Treasure Valley Family YMCA President and CEO. “The initial reopening plan will allow us to implement our new safety measures on a smaller scale in preparation for opening more areas within our facilities and programs in the near future.”

YMCA hours of operation will be Monday–Friday from 5 am to 8 pm, Saturday from 7 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm.

Tuesday, May 5

General and business-specific protocols for opening in various stages of the four-stage Idaho Rebounds plan have been added to the Rebound.Idaho.Gov website, according to the governor's office. 

To date, the following protocols are available. Additional business-specific protocols will be added as they are made available.

  • Stage 1 – General Business
  • Stage 1 – Daycare
  • Stage 1 – Youth Activities
  • Stage 1 – Places of Worship
  • Stage 2 – Restaurants
  • Stage 2 – General Business
  • Stage 2 – Close Contact Services

The protocols can be found at rebound.idaho.gov/business-specific-protocols-for-opening.

Idaho SNAP benefits can now be used for online purchases

Idaho families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, commonly known as food stamps, can purchase groceries online starting today, May 5, at Amazon and at Walmart locations in Jerome and Caldwell, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced. All Walmart stores will accept online orders starting Thursday, May 7.

Idaho has been approved to participate in the United States Department of Agriculture online purchasing pilot project. SNAP recipients can choose in-store pick up or delivery, where available, but those who choose delivery will have to pay any delivery fee out of pocket. SNAP benefits do not cover these costs.

“As stay-at-home orders are lifted, everyone is still encouraged to continue practicing social distancing, and this should help that effort,” said Kristin Matthews, program manager for Idaho SNAP. “At-risk and needy populations are still facing tremendous difficulty finding and purchasing food, and Idaho is continuing to explore ways to better serve them.”

Walmart and Amazon are the only retailers currently approved by USDA to accept SNAP benefits online in Idaho. Other retailers may apply directly with USDA to participate in this program. If the closest Walmart is in another state, check with the store to see if online purchasing is available.

 For more information on SNAP, visit www.livebettidaho.gov or call 855-289-1427 to apply.

Friday, May 1

Nampa Parks and Recreation to open park restrooms May 4.

In a press release Friday, the city of Nampa announced that it will be opening all park restrooms starting next week. In addition, the Nampa Parks and Recreation department will also allow youth sport organizations to practice in designated areas of the parks. Games, however, are still not being held and there is no set date by the city on which they'll resume. 

Picnic shelters are still unavailable for reservation by the public.

The College of Idaho to resume in-person classes in the Fall. 

The College of Idaho intends to reopen its campus for in-person instruction and residency for the fall semester, “with a careful eye to the evolving COVID-19 landscape," according to a statement Friday from Co-Presidents Doug Brigham and Jim Everett.

The college is appointing task forces to work on the changes required to be ready to open campus for the fall.

The college shifted to online learning on March 13, though roughly 185 students remained on campus for various reasons, including difficulties returning to international locations or uncertain domestic situations.

“We have been grateful to our frontline staff and our students who have helped us maintain a safe campus community for our students who have no other place to be during these times,” Everett said.

New state emergency grant to help child care providers reopen, stay open during pandemic.

Gov. Brad Little today announced a new Idaho Child Care Emergency Grant program aimed at providing child care business owners with the financial resources to reopen and continue operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. “As we begin the staged reopening of Idaho and our residents return to their places of work, I want to make sure they have consistent care for their children,” Little said in a news release. “These grants not only help working parents in Idaho, they also help the owners of these small businesses.”

Applications for the emergency grants will be accepted May 1 through June 30. Interested business owners can apply by downloading and completing the Idaho Child Care Emergency Fund application online here.

The Emergency Grant is available to licensed and/or ICCP certified childcare providers who administer full time childcare, and who will be open and operating during the months for which funding is requested. Eligible expenses include staffing costs or hazard pay; cleaning and janitorial expenses; consumable supplies and materials; and general business operations such as rent or utilities.

Protocols for the May 1 opening of child care or day care facilities are posted online here.

Funding is coming from Idaho’s $1.25 billion in federal aid under the CARES Act.

The city of Boise announced via a press release Friday that, after consulting with the Boise Parks and Recreation Department, they have decided not to open the city's outdoor pools. 

“The health and safety of our residents is important – and this was a very tough call,” said Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway. “After taking into consideration the continued protocols surrounding physical distancing and limited group gatherings that will be in place for the foreseeable future, and understanding the impact that would have on our admissions and fiscal accountability, we believe it is the right decision for the city and the community."

The city operates six outdoor pools. According to the press release, the pool closures mean there will be no Youth Summer Recreational Swim Team nor swim lessons offered.

Eagle said it encourages businesses to follow the Governor's four stage plan for reopening the state economy, but will not stop businesses from reopening before the plan allows.

Eagle Mayor Jason Pierce said in a press release Friday, "We encourage everyone to follow the path that the governor has laid out, but we do not have the resources to shut down businesses that open before the governor’s timeline."

The press release encourages businesses planning to reopen to follow "good public health practices."

"So, business owners, per the Stay Healthy Order, do your research and establish health and safety plans to protect yourselves, your staff, and your customers," the press release from Pierce said. "The Rebound Idaho Site, Central District Health, and the Centers for Disease Control have materials to help you build this plan. Some customers are going to be back and ready to buy right away. Others are going to need time and reassurance that coming to your business is safe. Having a health and safety plan is a great first step to help build consumer confidence."

The release said businesses should be following guidance from the Idaho Department of Labor, Alcohol Beverage Control, or state licensing boards.

Eagle has established a Business and Workforce Recovery Task Force comprised of members of the local business community, the release said. Its mission is to come up with the best ways to support and promote local businesses during this staged reopening and into the future because the financial impacts of the coronavirus will extend far past the staged reopening. The City Council appointed the committee members today so that they can get to work immediately on ideas for recovery.

Monday, April 20

The state of Idaho was reporting 1,766 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday evening, including 30 new confirmed and probably cases that day. A reported 51 people in Idaho have died from the disease, including 12 in Ada County, were there are 622 confirmed or probable cases, and six in Canyon County, were there are 212 confirmed and probable cases. According to coronavirus.idaho.gov:

  • 710 people have recovered from the illness. 
  • 158 people were hospitalized, including 58 in the ICU.
  • 218 health care workers were infected.

The number of infections is highest among 18- to 29-year-olds at 350 cases, followed by 50- to 59-year-olds at 313 cases, state data shows. The age group under 18 has the lowest number of cases at 48.

St. Luke’s is now conducting COVID-19 lab tests in-house, with lab capacity on track to surpass 1,700 tests a day in May.

The move is expected to reduce the result turnaround time from an average of three days to just two to four hours, according to a press release from the health system. St. Luke's had previously been sending specimens to external labs, such as the Idaho State Lab or to the University of Washington Medical Center or the University of Utah; the hospital stopped sending specimens to the large commercial labs that took more than eight days to return results.

St. Luke’s has four systems that can process COVID-19 specimens, but until a few weeks ago, the health system could not purchase reagent, a substance with a short shelf life that is key to the testing. During the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Defense has limited which organizations can have reagent, based on location, population, need and hot spots.

St. Luke’s Core Laboratory recently received enough reagent to test two of its instruments and begin running COVID-19 tests. Labs in Boise, Twin Falls, Ketchum, Meridian, Nampa and McCall also have instruments up and running patient tests. 

Jagdish Patel

The University of Idaho team working on a cure for coronaviruses includes molecular modeling specialist Jagdish Patel (pictured), a research assistant professor; virologist Paul Rowley, an assistant professor; and evolutionary biologist JT Van Leuven, a research assistant professor. The research is being conducted within the Institute for Modeling Collaboration and Innovation.

The University of Idaho is working to identify a cure for coronaviruses, including COVID-19. The Department of Biological Sciences team expects to finish preliminary tests within a year.

Researchers will also develop a pipeline for identifying drugs that block viruses from infecting human cells.

The project is funded with $100,000 from a National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant issued to U of I Department of Physics Professor Marty Ytreberg. The EPSCoR funds were provided to determine how amino acid changes modify the way proteins interact with other molecules.

The team hopes to create a drug that shields human cells rather than attacks viruses.

'Support Local Gems' encourages Idahoans to buy local: U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and the Idaho Department of Commerce announced Monday the creation of “Support Local Gems,” an all-day event to support Idaho small businesses whose operations have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Friday, April 24, Idahoans are invited to Support Local Gems by giving their business to their favorite local shops and restaurants. Idahoans can get involved by shopping at small businesses online, purchasing gift cards for future use or for loved ones, ordering take-out or delivery from local restaurants, writing a review online, posting on social media about a local business, or simply saying thank you.

Following the April 24 event, Idaho Commerce and Visit Idaho will continue to promote awareness of the Support Local Gems program by sharing resources as well as the stories of Idaho communities, citizens, and small businesses on visitidaho.org and across its social media channels.

“Idaho will be better positioned for a strong economic comeback because we are making difficult changes in how we live and work in the short-term, and our small businesses need our support more than ever,” Gov. Brad Little said in a prepared statement. “I urge all citizens to support small business on Friday, April 24th.”

If your organization or small business would like to get involved in the Support Local Gems initiative, email press@risch.senate.gov.

Caldwell City Council on Monday extended the city's state of emergency and Mayor Garret Nancolas' power to immediately enact public health agency recommendations to May 18.

The council originally enacted this power during an emergency meeting March 24 in response to growing concerns around COVID-19. At the time, there were six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canyon County. As of Monday evening, there were 199 confirmed cases in the county, and five deaths.

The emergency powers give Nancolas the authority to enact measures at his own discretion immediately without council approval, but only measures that have been recommended by public health agencies.

Central District Health has confirmed the first death associated with COVID-19 in a resident of Elmore County. The woman was in her 60s and had severe underlying health conditions. She was determined to be positive for COVID-19 prior to passing. Out of respect for grieving family and friends, CDH has provided this essential information but will retain any patient-specific information as confidential.

Epidemiologists with CDH continue their contact investigation, according to a press release from the health district. If other people are found to have possibly been exposed, public health officials will provide guidance to them and will monitor them for symptoms. At the time of this release, there have been 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Elmore County, and one probable case. Probable cases include individuals who are close contacts to confirmed cases and who become symptomatic but are not tested.

Case counts for Ada, Boise, Elmore, and Valley counties, as served by CDH are updated weekdays by 5 p.m. unless otherwise noted on the CDH website, www.cdh.idaho.gov/dac-coronavirus.

The CDH Call Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm with Spanish speaking representatives available: 208-321-2222.

Friday, April 17

Drive-up tent screening and specimen collecting for testing at St. Luke’s in Boise, Meridian and Twin Falls will adjust its operating hours starting Monday, April 20, to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week. The tent in Wood River is already operating with these adjusted hours and will continue to do so.

Thursday, April 16

Idaho’s U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch will serve with a bipartisan group of congressional colleagues on the White House’s Opening Up America Again Congressional Group, President Trump announced Thursday.

The congressional group will work with governors and the Trump administration to develop guidelines on reopening the economy.

Crapo, in a statement Thursday, vouched for widespread access to COVID-19 diagnostic and anti-body testing, further government safety nets for rural areas, and more federal funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to help sustain small businesses.

"Social distancing practices have helped slow the spread of the coronavirus across the country, and decisions moving forward need to take a sound, comprehensive approach grounded in medical and factual science," Crapo stated. "While we need to get our economy back up and running prosperously again, we must do so in a manner that does not undo the hard work Idahoans and Americans have put forth to protect public health during this difficult time."

Risch stated, "We must find a way forward that mitigates both loss of life and loss of families’ economic security as much as possible. There are no easy solutions to the challenges we face, but I am committed to working closely with my task force colleagues and the president to reopen the U.S. economy safely and quickly.”

Idaho's numbers, reported by the state as of 5 p.m. Thursday:

1,609 statewide cases, including 22 new today

41 deaths, no increase today

390 presumed cases recovered (persons with a confirmed case who are alive 30 days after onset of symptoms) 

148 hospitalizations, including 51 in the ICU

187 cases among health care workers

Ada County:

  • 576 confirmed cases
  • 9 deaths

Canyon County:

  • 181 confirmed cases
  • 5 deaths

INSURANCE UPDATE: Short-term health insurance plans have joined Affordable Care Act plans in waiving co-sharing for COVID-19 testing and, in some cases, treatment, according to the Idaho Department of Insurance. 

With the high potential cost of a hospital bill for COVID-19, the department is making sure Idahoans are aware of their options, including special enrollment periods as well as short-term health insurance. Under the law, Idahoans are eligible for a special enrollment period if they have a qualifying event, such as a coverage loss, loss of income or a change in family demographics. For uninsured Idahoans who do not have a qualifying event, short-term plans can provide coverage until the next open enrollment period.

“The DOI has been working with and urging all of our insurance carriers to help Idahoans during this stressful time by waiving deductibles and coinsurance for COVID-19 related claims,” Department Director Dean Cameron said in a press release. “Idaho’s ACA plan carriers responded and voluntarily waived those costs associated with COVID-19. Now, short-term plan carriers are also stepping up. I am glad to see these insurance companies looking out for their policyholders — their efforts, leadership, and compassion are appreciated.”

Carriers offering ACA plans and waiving co-sharing for COVID-19 testing, physician visits and treatment are Blue Cross, Regence, SelectHealth, Mountain Health Co-op and PacificSource. These plans can be purchased through Your Health Idaho under a special enrollment or the carrier’s website.

While ACA plans don't exclude preexisting conditions, short-term health plans may exclude coverage for COVID-19 if purchased after diagnosis and there was no prior health coverage.

The available short-term insurance carriers all provide coverage for COVID-19 testing, physician visits, and/or treatment, and they are waiving co-sharing as follows:

  • Blue Cross of Idaho Health Services: Co-sharing for testing, associated physician visits, and treatment are waived.
  • Companion Life Insurance Company: Co-sharing for testing is waived.
  • Everest Reinsurance Company: Co-sharing is not waived for any services.
  • Lifemap Assurance Company: Co-sharing for testing and associated physician visits are waived. Other costs including treatment are subject to normal co-sharing per plan.
  • Independence American Insurance Company: Co-sharing for testing and associated physician visits are waived.
  • SelectHealth Benefit Assurance Companies Co-sharing for testing and the related physician visit are waived. Co-sharing for treatment is waived if with in-network providers or in an emergency room.
  • Standard Life and Accident Company: Co-sharing for testing and associated physician visits are waived.

The DOI continues to consider and review opportunities for assistance to Idahoans during this time. Consumers who have questions or concerns should reach out to the DOI at consumeraffairs@doi.idaho.gov.

Wednesday, April 15

Stay-home order extended: Gov. Brad Little has extended his statewide stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus through April 30, but with some modifications “to begin to allow our economy to reopen safely.”

Effective immediately, some businesses that had been classified as “non-essential” can reopen, the governor said, if they can operate via curbside pickup and delivery, maintain social distancing for staff and patrons, and limit the number of people in the business at a time.

Read the full story here. 

Tuesday, April 14

As of 5 p.m., the state of Idaho was reporting:

  • 1,464 cases of COVID-19, out of 15,398 people tested
  • 39 fatalities:141 hospitalizations, including 43 admitted to the ICU
    • 9 in Ada County
    • 9 in Nez Perce County
    • 7 in Twin Falls County
    • 5 in Canyon County
    • 5 in Blaine County
    • 2 in Jerome County
    • 1 in Cassia County
    • 1 in Payette County
  • 166 cases among health care workers

Source: coronavirus.idaho.gov

Thursday, April 9

Masks in public: St. Luke’s Health System has received several requests for comment on the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all people wear a mask when out in public. St. Luke’s recommends following current guidance, from the CDC website:

The CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. Recent studies indicate that a portion of individuals with COVID-19 lack symptoms and that even those who eventually develop symptoms can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. Based on this new evidence, the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Masks should be used as a secondary defense, after social distancing and proper handwashing. Helpful tips about mask-making can be found here.

Idaho cases: The state's tally shows 1,232 cases of COVID-19 as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, 18 fatalities, 113 hospitalizations (including 29 in an intensive care unit), and 12,531 tests given. Of the confirmed cases, 113 are among health care workers.

Local numbers:

  • Ada County: 447 cases, five deaths
  • Canyon County: 121 cases, three deaths

St. Luke's internal mask policy: All St. Luke's staff and providers are now required to wear masks in hospitals and clinics, the hospital announced. The new guidance applies to all clinical and non-clinical staff, including personnel in food and nutrition, environmental services, building services and patient access specialists.

“The goal is to help prevent the community spread of COVID-19,” St. Luke’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Souza said in a press release. “Donning procedure masks while in patient-care areas reduces the risk of asymptomatic or presymptomatic spread of the virus, both from patients to employees and from an employee to a patient.”

The new mask policy bolsters the previous steps St. Luke’s has taken to protect hospital staff, patients and visitors. Visitors have been limited and all people entering the hospitals must use specific doors, then are screened either verbally or additionally by thermal temperature scanners in some locations. Non-urgent/non-emergent operative and invasive procedures have been paused indefinitely, to reduce the number of people entering the hospital sites. St. Luke’s also moved hospital outpatient pharmacy services temporarily and is providing drop-off and pickup services in parking lots. To ensure surfaces are clean, environmental services teams are walking floor by floor to wipe down all touchable surfaces every four hours.

Monday, April 6

Idaho has reached 1,170 cases of COVID-19, with 69 new cases. According to coronavirus.idaho.gov, 11,246 people have been tested, 83 hospitalized and 13 people have died. There are 87 cases in healthcare workers.  

Saturday, April 4

Cases: Idaho reached 1,077 COVID-19 cases Saturday, with 64 new confirmations. According to coronavirus.idaho.gov, 10,261 people have been tested, 66 hospitalized and 10 people have died. There are 65 cases in healthcare workers. Saturday's new-case count is down significantly from Thursday, when 222 new cases were announced, and Friday, when 122 new cases were posted. 

License sales: The Idaho Fish and Game Commission announced Saturday it has temporarily suspended the sale of nonresident permits, licenses and tags. The commission adopted the rule at its Saturday meeting. Fishing and hunting tags, permits and licenses purchased prior to the new rule by people living outside of Idaho are still valid. This action does not affect Idaho residents, nor does it change existing seasons. 

Thursday, April 2

Cases: 222 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Idaho Thursday, bringing the state's cumulative total to 891 as of 5 p.m. Nine people in Idaho have died from the illness, and 56 have been hospitalized, including seven in intensive care units, according to coronavirus.idaho.gov. Of those who have tested positive, 46 are health care workers. The number of people tested for the disease continues to grow, reaching 7,945 Thursday. The state's coronavirus website has been updated to include more statistics and graphs. 

Q&A tonight: Gov. Brad Little, state Health & Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen and state Labor Director Jani Revier will appear on a Q&A program on Idaho Public Television tonight at 8 about the state’s coronavirus response, with host Aaron Kunz. The half-hour show will air live statewide, at 8 p.m. People may submit questions in advance via email at idreports@idahoptv.org, or participate via the Idaho Reports Facebook page, where the show will be streamed live in addition to being broadcast on Idaho Public TV’s main channel.

Governor proclamation: Gov. Brad Little, who suspended 125 regulations in March as part of the state's coronavirus response, is suspending another 18 regulations. The latest waivers are meant to ensure residents have greater access to telehealth, and medical professionals can more easily obtain necessary licenses to quickly engage in the response effort, Little's office announced Thursday.

Blue Cross coverage announcement: Blue Cross of Idaho has waived all member cost-sharing for testing and treatment of COVID-19, the company announced Thursday. The decision applies to individual, fully insured and Medicare Advantage members.

The expansion covers cost-share treatment received through June 30, and is offered at no additional premium cost.

Blue Cross of Idaho will partner with its self-funded employers and will continue to work with these groups to ensure their employees’ needs are met.

Blue Cross of Idaho in March waived all cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing. In response to the coronavirus crisis, the company has also enhanced its prescription drug benefits and expanded access to telehealth services.

Wednesday, April 1

Cases: 144 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Idaho Wednesday. Testing has ramped up across the state, and as of 5 p.m. Wednesday 7,282 people in Idaho had been tested for the diseases. Idaho's total confirmed case count as of that time was 669, and nine deaths, according to coronavirus.idaho.gov.

Tuesday, March 31

'Personal accountability': In just one day, confirmed COVID-19 cases jumped from 114 to 170 in Central District Health’s four-county jurisdiction of Ada, Boise, Elmore, and Valley counties, the district announced, noting that personal accountability is critical in slowing the spread of the disease.

"While test timing and result notifications can factor into case count increases like this one, these numbers represent our neighbors, family, friends, and co-workers," a district press release states. "Some individuals show mild symptoms, while others require hospitalization for care."

Of the health district's first 100 confirmed cases, 16 people required hospitalization, and three people died, all in Ada County, which as of Tuesday has seen a total of 194 confirmed cases.

Statewide numbers are updated at 5 p.m. daily. Idaho had seen 415 confirmed cases as of Monday and seven deaths. The number of people tested has grown to 8,712.

What should you do? If you are having mild, cold-like symptoms, stay home, even if you wouldn’t normally, Central District Health says. According to the district:

Many individuals have mild symptoms, especially early in the course of their illness. Without taking precautions to stay at home, people who are infectious could be unintentionally exposing others.

CDH is urging anyone having symptoms of cough, sore throat, body aches, fever, sneezing, trouble breathing, or other cold-like symptoms, no matter how mild, to stay home for:

  • At least seven days from when their symptoms first appeared, and
  • At least three days (72 hours) of symptom improvement including no fever (without using fever-reducing medications).
  • Assume COVID-19 is in our community.

Other steps encouraged by the health district:

  • Consider how you can reduce your trips out in public. Can you use more drive-through or carry-out services? 
  • Consider how closely you, your household, and friends are following the statewide order.

Resources: 

Sunday, March 29

First Owyhee County COVID-19 case confirmed

Southwest District Health has confirmed the first COVID-19 case in Owyhee County in a female in her 40s. The source of transmission is under investigation. If other people are found to have been possibly exposed they will be contacted, provided guidance and monitored for symptoms.

Owyhee County officials ask all citizens to continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC, Gov. Brad Little and SWDH officials and remind citizens we can and will get through this together.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Stay-Home Order issued March 25 includes guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Those guidelines include:

  • Keep 6 feet between yourself and everyone else at all times.
  • Engage in work, schooling, and social interaction from home via technology.
  • Avoid interacting with anyone outside your household unless you can keep at least 6 feet of space between you.
  • Use drive-thru, pickup or delivery options as much as possible when getting food.
  • Avoid all non-essential travel.
  • Reschedule all social activities to take place via phone, video chats, or social media.

Questions about COVID-19 can be directed to the Southwest District Health COVID-19 call center at 208-455-5411 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Case counts for the six counties SWDH serves are updated weekdays by 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted on the district's website. For Idaho COVID-19 information, visit coronavirus.idaho.gov.

Saturday, March 28

Case count: Statewide as of 4:55 p.m. Saturday there were 261 confirmed cases and five deaths, according to the state's site.

Two deaths in Canyon County: Nampa City Council during a video-conference meeting Saturday extended the city’s state of emergency and postponed all public hearings until April 17 in compliance with Gov. Brad Little’s stay-home order issued Wednesday.

As of Friday night, Southwest District Health Director Nikki Zogg said there were 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canyon County, with two deaths related to the disease, although those numbers were not yet reflected on the state and health district websites at noon Sunday. Zogg confirmed there is community spread in Canyon County, and projected there would be cases circulating through the county by this time next year.

1st death in Ada County: Central District Health has confirmed the first death associated with COVID-19 in Ada County. The person was over 60 and had pre-existing health issues. More information will added as it comes in.

Friday, March 27

Idaho cases hit 230: According coronavirus.idaho.gov, Idaho has hit 230 confirmed cases Friday afternoon. This includes 98 in Blaine County, 75 in Ada, and 23 in Canyon County. For more information and a full breakdown of county numbers, click here.

4th death confirmed in Idaho

Public Health – Idaho North Central District in Lewiston has confirmed the first death associated with COVID-19 in Nez Perce County, the district announced Friday.

The individual was over the age of 80 with age-related health issues. This was a previously confirmed case that was being investigated prior to death.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the patient who died as well as the families of the people who are being affected by this outbreak. The health of the residents, staff and community we serve is our top priority,” said PH-INCD Director Carol Moehrle in a news release. “We will continue to work with healthcare professionals to support the care of the patients, the safety of the healthcare workers and the well-being of the people in our District.”

Epidemiologists with PH-INCD continue their contact investigation. If other people are found to have possibly been exposed, public health officials will provide guidance to them and will monitor them closely for symptoms.

Out of respect for this grieving family, Public Health has provided this essential information, but will retain any patient specific information as confidential.

Community spread confirmed in Nampa

Southwest District Health confirmed Friday the detection of community spread of COVID-19 in Canyon County, as well as the first case in Gem County. 

Community spread, sometimes called community transmission, is when public health officials cannot find the origin for a disease. Some of the first COVID-19 cases in Idaho were linked to travel in areas with confirmed cases; as the number of cases in Idaho has grown, community spread has begun to occur.

As of 7 p.m. Thursday, there were 22 confirmed cases in Canyon County, according to a release from SWDH. The first 2C case was announced March 20.

Gem County reports 1st case

Southwest District Health confirmed Gem County's first COVID-19 case on Friday. The man in his 20s experienced mild symptoms and is recovering well at home. How he became sick is under investigation; he had no known contact with other confirmed cases, according to SWDH.

Members in the same household as a confirmed case are asked to self-isolate. If others are determined to have been exposed, health officials will contact them with next steps.

Public health officials are urging people to comply with Gov. Brad Little's stay-at-home order issued March 25, which directs citizens to stay in their homes unless completing essential tasks.

Caldwell: Mayor Garret Nancolas issued a statement announcing Caldwell was temporarily closing its playgrounds and park restrooms, along with two golf courses, Purple Sage and Fairview. This was in response to Gov. Brad Little's stay-home order Wednesday. 

Thursday, March 26

Idaho reports first COVID-19 deaths, 2 in Blaine and 1 in Canyon County

The Department of Health and Welfare and two local public health districts are reporting the state’s first deaths related to COVID-19.

They are:

  • A man over the age of 60 from Blaine County. It is not clear if he had underlying health issues.
  • A man over the age of 80 from Blaine County. It is not clear if he had underlying health issues.
  • A man over the age of 70 from Canyon County with underlying health issues.

“This is very sad news, and we send our condolences to the families and friends of each of these individuals,” said Elke Shaw-Tulloch, administrator for the Division of Public Health in DHW. “This underscores the importance of Gov. Little’s order to stay home – we all have to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”

Gov. Brad Little issued a statewide stay-home order and signed an extreme emergency declaration on Wednesday. The stay-home order was effective immediately and in place for 21 days. The Governor and public health officials will assess whether to extend the order near the end of the 21-day period. 

In Blaine County, Wood River Fire and Rescue Captain Ron Taylor shared news of Idaho’s first death due to COVID-19 during a Hailey City Council meeting on Thursday, Idaho Mountain Express reports. Contacted by the Idaho Mountain Express, Blaine County Coroner’s Office confirmed that a Blaine County resident passed away due to COVID-19 either Sunday or Monday.

Idaho cases: As of 5 p.m. Thursday Idaho was reporting 189 cases of COVID-19, including 21 in Canyon County and 53 in Ada County, according to coronavirus.idaho.gov.

Three residents, two in Blaine County and one in Canyon County, have died from the illness; all were men over the age of 60.

Testing: 2,857 people in Idaho have been tested.

City of Nampa Closes Golf Courses and City Park Restrooms

To support and encourage residents to stay home, as ordered by Gov. Little, and to reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus, the city of Nampa is closing Centennial Golf Course and Ridgecrest Golf Club.

Nampa closed playgrounds at park locations earlier this week and will now close restrooms at public parks effective immediately.

Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling said, “While I understand some will not appreciate the closure of the golf courses and restrooms, with confirmed cases of coronavirus spread in Canyon County, we all need to do our part now in reducing the spread of this virus. Please honor the Governor’s stay-home order.”

Governor call, press conference: Gov. Brad Little, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen, and Idaho State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn will answer questions about COVID-19 in Idaho LIVE on Idaho Public Television Thursday at 8 p.m. (Mountain), airing on Idaho Public Television and online.

Little will host a press conference at 12 p.m. Friday in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the state budget and resources for businesses and the suddenly unemployed due to COVID-19. Only credentialed members of the media are invited. 

 The press conference will be streamed to the public through Idaho Public Television: idahoptv.org/shows/idahoinsession/governor.

Primary Health respiratory clinics: Primary Health Medical Group has developed “respiratory clinics” in Garden City, Meridian and Nampa offering car-side services for patients with COVID-19 symptoms while keeping them separate from the general patient population and reducing the risk of exposure to health care workers. 

Respiratory clinics locations (call first; remain in vehicle): 

  • Garden City: 5601 W. Chinden Blvd. 208-809-2865
  • Meridian Crossroads: 3280 E. Lanark Drive. 208-895-8670
  • Nampa: 700 Caldwell Blvd. 208-466-6567

Multiple other Primary Health locations are open for regular urgent care services. Learn more at PrimaryHealth.com.

West Valley 'no visitor' policy, 1 public entrance: West Valley Medical Center is no longer accepting visitors into the facility "to help ensure a safe care environment" and limit possible exposure to COVID-19.

Exceptions include:

  • One family member or significant other can stay with laboring mothers
  • One parent may stay at the bedside with NICU and pediatric patients
  • Visitor rotation (one at a time) will be allowed for parents of NICU and pediatric patients
  • Permitted visitors are allowed entry from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and must be in good health (no flu-like symptoms or possible COVID-19 exposure).

The West Valley ER is now the only entrance for the public. Those who enter the hospital will be screened. 

The Idaho Health Data Exchange is providing temporary free access to its portal for all health care providers who are caring for residents of Idaho and neighboring communities.

The exchange enables doctors, nurses, labs, and other medical providers to securely access their patient’s electronic health information quickly, 24/7, to improve the speed, quality, safety, and cost of patient care.

If health care providers and organizations would like to have access to the IHDE Clinical Portal, they can add up to four staff initially. To do so, email covid-19@idahohde.org and include a prioritized list of providers and support staff names and contact information.

Wednesday, March 25

Gov. Little on Wednesday issued a statewide stay-home order and a signed an extreme emergency declaration. Full story here. 

Idaho has 123 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the state's coronavirus website. That includes 37 in Ada County and eight in Canyon County. Blaine County, where Sun Valley is located, has the most confirmed cases at 52. Idaho's first case was reported 12 days ago, in Ada County. The number of people tested in the state is now up to 2,188.

Last day to get marriage licenses in Boise: The Ada County Clerk's Office said couples who plan on getting married before May 31 need to pick up a license before 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 25. "With Governor Little's Declaration and Stay at Home Order announced today, we anticipate that marriage licenses will be unavailable for an indefinite period of time," according to a release from the office.

Nampa playgrounds closed: Nampa Parks and Recreation Department and Nampa School District playgrounds are now closed until further notice. Although the playgrounds will be closed, the parks and pathways will remain open to the public, subject to any further guidance issued by the health district or state officials.

Idaho State Parks remain open for day use recreation but camping will end at 5 p.m. Friday, keeping with Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s stay-at-home order. The camping closure will last through May 15 and no new reservations for campsites will be taken. The shutdown could be extended, depending on the status of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Besides the stay-home order, concerns arose over the ability to maintain social distancing within concentrated campsites, according to David Langhorst, director of Idaho Parks and Recreation. also, some communities expressed concerns about attracting out-of-area visitors and the potential for increased virus transmission.

Despite the camping closure, outdoor activity is encouraged – but Gov. Little and public health officials urge people to recreate close to home – and to follow best practices, such as keeping 6 feet away from others and avoiding groups of 10 or more persons, according to the parks department.

The department will also suspend its recreational education programs for boating and off-highway vehicles to observe social distancing and avoid bringing groups together. Prior to Wednesday, classes had been restricted to 10 people.

Tuesday, March 24

Community spread: Central District Health has identified one case of community spread of COVID-19 in Ada County.

CDH said in a news release late on Tuesday that one additional case in Ada County is being investigated. There have been 25 cases between Ada and Valley Counties; this includes 23 travel-associated confirmed cases, 22 in Ada and 1 in Valley.

CDH and Southwest District Health — which serves Adams, Washington, Payette, Gem, Canyon and Owyhee counties — agree there is “considerable overlap” between Ada and Canyon residents.

To date, SWDH has seen four travel-associated confirmed cases in Canyon County; two cases in Canyon and one case in Payette are pending investigation results. There are no confirmed community-transmission cases in SWDH’s coverage area.

Case count: The state's official coronavirus website tracks the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, but the site doesn't have the most up-to-date numbers from individual health districts.

The state site is reporting 73 cases. However, using information from the health districts, media partner KTVB is reporting 90 cases in Idaho as of Tuesday, including 24 in Ada County and five in Canyon County.

Twelve counties are reporting cases, with the most being in Blaine County, home to Sun Valley, with 40 cases, according to KTVB.

Some of those numbers local districts release might change if a positive case is determined to be an out of state resident — they will the be added to another state's total number of cases instead of Idaho, KTVB reports.

Boise Towne Square Mall closed: As reported by our partners at BoiseDev.com, Brookfield Properties, which operates Boise Towne Square, has formally closed the shopping center.

AARP town hall: AARP Idaho along with Gov. Brad Little and Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppeson will host a statewide telephone town hall to provide updated information and answer questions regarding the coronavirus in Idaho. The hourlong conversation begins at noon today. Participants can join by dialing toll-free 866-767-0637 or register in advance by visiting vekeo.com/aarpidaho. The discussion will also be streaming live at www.facebook.com/aarpidaho.

This is an interactive forum and participants are encouraged to call and speak directly with the governor. Questions may also be submitted ahead of time via email at aarpid@aarp.org.

Ada County marriage licenses: Ada County residents who are planning to get married before May 31 are advised to get their marriage license from the Ada County Clerk's Office by 4:30 p.m. March 27. Licenses will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. this week. Visitors to the courthouse must check in at the trailer in the east parking lot of the building before obtaining their license.

Number of cases: You may seem some discrepancies in the number of confirmed cases when looking at the state's coronavirus website and public health districts' websites. Here's an explanation for that. 

Caldwell: Caldwell City Council approved an ordinance at an emergency meeting allowing Mayor Garret Nancolas to immediately implement safety measures recommended by public health agencies without council approval. This power is effective immediately and will last until 9 p.m. April 20. 

Nampa: Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling issued a press release requesting restaurants move to carry-out orders or maintain the 6-foot social distancing guideline so the council does not have to implement an ordinance. She also said she asked local law enforcement to check social gathering places in the city to make sure people are keeping adequate distance from one another. 

Monday, March 23

Schools closed for four weeks: The State Board of Education has ordered a four-week public school closure — and the shutdown could run longer, Idaho Education News reports. During the “soft closure,” schools will be closed to students. At least for now, the closure runs through April 20. Full story here

Governor's press conference: Gov. Brad Little signed two emergency proclamations Monday to respond to the coronavirus crisis. Find details here

Meridian city playgrounds and outdoor exercise equipment are now closed. Other areas of parks and pathways currently remain open to the public.

City of Eagle closes public playgrounds and parks: Effectively immediately, the follow parks will be closed: Stephen C. Guerber Park, Friendship Park, Orval Krasen Park, Plaza Park and Reid Merrill Park, which was already closed for construction.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean issued a social distancing order for the city, which will take effect at midnight Tuesday for 30 days. Learn more here

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.

Icon Credit Union is restricting walk-in access to branch locations. The branches are still fully staffed, and members are encouraged to use ATMs, drive-up windows and online and mobile banking. For members whose employment has been affected or for those that are incurring additional costs because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Icon is offering Skip-A-Pay options and an Iconic Lifeline Loan.

WinCo vulnerable population shopping hours: WinCo Foods has instituted senior shopping hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Seniors over 60 years old, vulnerable populations and WinCo employees will be allowed to shop without other people in the store during those time periods.

Other shopping hours for seniors:

  • Fred Meyer: 7-8 a.m. weekdays. Shopping for other customers starts at 8 a.m.
  • Albertsons: 7-9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • Boise Co-op: 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily for shoppers 60 and older. Located at 888 W. Fort St, Boise, and 2350 N. Eagle Road, Meridian.
  • Ridley’s Family Markets: 6-7 a.m. for seniors only. Local stores are at 1403 N. Meridian Road, Kuna, and 430 E. Main St., Middleton.
  • Target: The first hour of shopping each Wednesday at stores nationwide for vulnerable guests. Please contact your local store for hours.
  • Walmart: Beginning March 24, Walmart stores will open an hour early every Tuesday for customers aged 60 and older. Walmart pharmacies and Vision Centers will also be open during this time. 

Comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham has postponed his show at ExtraMile Arena in Boise from April 25 to Nov. 12. Tickets will be honored on the new date.

Sunday, March 22

Idaho's confirmed cases reach 50: As of 5 p.m. Sunday, there are 50 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

DHW officials report three cases in Canyon County and 13 in Ada County. A bulk of the confirmed cases — 21 people — stem from Blaine County, where a "stay in place" order is in effect. Statewide, there have been zero fatalities.

So far, nearly 1,000 people were tested through the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories, DHW officials said. An additional 359 people have been tested through commercial labs. 

Cases in Ada, Valley counties likely related to Blaine County travel: Central District Health is asking anyone who recently traveled to Blaine County in the past two weeks — March 8-22 — to "shelter in place." Officials said this decision came after three Ada County residents tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling to Blaine County, where a majority of Idaho's cases are being confirmed.

A part-time Valley County resident — a man in his 50s — also tested positive after traveling to Blaine County. Officials said the man is recovering well and self-isolating in Ada County, where he was tested. He is the first confirmed case for Valley County.

New cases in northern Idaho: The Panhandle Health District confirmed three new cases of COVID-19 in northern Idaho, bringing the number of cases in that area to six. One is a girl younger than 18 years old, and the other two are a man and woman in their 30s. All three cases are from Kootenai County. Each is self-isolating at home. Health officials said contract tracing is ongoing for the three. 

Saturday, March 21

New cases in eastern Idaho: Eastern Idaho Public Health confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 in eastern Idaho. One is a woman younger than 50 years old in Teton County, and the other is a man younger than 70 years old in Madison County. Neither people were hospitalized, and both are recovering in their home.

Middleton Middle School: A person from Ada County who later tested positive for COVID-19 visited Middleton Middle School while they were possibly still contagious, according to Southwest District Health. Officials will be contacting people who may have been in contact with the person; those who are not contacted do not need to be concerned, according to the district.

Friday, March 20

Eight Ada cases: Ada County has eight confirmed cases as of 7:45 p.m. Friday, according to Central District Health, bringing the total of reported cases in Idaho to 36. 

First case in Canyon County: A Canyon County man in his 60s has tested positive for COVID-19, Southwest District Health. It's the county's first case.

The man has mild symptoms and is recovering at home, said Nikki Zogg, director of Southwest District Health. She did not specify which city he lives in. He had previously traveled to a location that is seeing cases of community spread, Zogg said.

The case is not evidence of community spread in Canyon County, said Zogg, who noted there is still minimal risk of exposure for county residents. Ada County has four confirmed cases.

The county and health district are not recommending social isolation for county residents, but they do recommend social distancing.

"I want to assure you this is no reason to panic," Zogg said at a press conference at 5 p.m. Friday. "The COVID-19 situation is changing by the day, and Southwest District Health is partnering with our communities across the board to work diligently to help slow the spread of this disease. Please trust us as your public agency. Please stay calm. We will get through this by working together and taking the right steps at the right time."

Meridian social distancing: Mayor Robert Simison enacted on Friday a social distancing order for the next 15 days that says indoor and outdoor venues and events cannot host more than 10 people at one time, and that venues must ensure patrons are more than six feet apart at all times; it does not effect delivery or take-out. Meridian police will enforce the order, and those who don't comply could be cited for a misdemeanor.

Ventilators, H-2A: U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, has joined a host of House members from the Pacific Northwest thanking Vice President Mike Pence for making additional ventilators in federal stockpiles available to the region, which has many fewer ventilators per capita than other regions of the country, the Post Register reports.

"The most recent data from HHS and the American Association for Respiratory Care found that Washington and Oregon only have 13 ventilators per 100,000 people and Idaho only has 12 ventilators per 100,000," the letter notes. "We urge the White House to convene every ventilator manufacturer with the purpose of developing a collective national manufacturing goal to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak."

Simpson told the Post Register he has also been working with the Trump Administration to ensure that the H-2A visa program, which allows farms to bring in guest workers from Mexico to help with agricultural work, will continue to function.

First case in Bingham County: Southeastern Idaho Public Health and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare have confirmed a positive case in southeast Idaho of novel coronavirus. The man, 37, is home recovering from mild symptoms and did not require hospitalization. His movement history is being closely evaluated.

The city of Moscow, effective at midnight Friday, is restricting dine-in services at bars and restaurants and prohibiting gatherings larger than 10 people. Curbside pick-up, take-out and drive-through of food and/or drink service are still allowed. These limitations and restrictions do not apply to businesses that serve fewer than ten individuals at a time, nor do they apply to grocery stores, gas stations, and pharmacies, nor to emergency overnight or day shelters that provide food service to persons experiencing homelessness, according to the city's website.

Canyon County marriage licenses: The Canyon County Recorder's Office will only issue marriage licenses to county residents until further notice. Joe Decker, spokesman for the county, said the temporary measure is being implemented as a precautionary move to prevent the potential exposure and spread of COVID-19. This also ensures "the office can better provide its state-mandated services to Canyon County taxpayers."

More North Idaho cases: Panhandle Health District and Kootenai Health confirmed that two more Kootenai County residents have tested positive, bringing the panhandle's total to three cases. 

  • Case 1, announced Thursday, is a male in his 60s, according to PHD. His symptoms are mild and he is self-isolating out of state.
  • Case 2 is a male under 30 who has been self-isolating since he returned from traveling.
  • Case 3 is a woman in her 60s who is recovering at home. She is experiencing mild symptoms.

Ada County Courthouse evacuated: After an employee's spouse tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, the Ada County Board of Commissioners and Ada County Clerk ordered the courthouse to be evacuated immediately. The order came in shortly after 1 p.m. Friday, according to Ada County Spokeswoman Elizabeth Duncan. "We've been operating with a skeleton staff since last Friday," Duncan said, but the positive test moved the county to close the courthouse down until further notice."

Boise State positive test: A Boise State University staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release from the school.

BSU learned of the positive test on Friday and has been working with Central District Health to respond. Anyone who visited the university's administration building or recreation center on Friday, March 13, might have come into contact with the individual who tested positive.

"Though the risk is low, anyone who experiences symptoms of COVID-19 should alert their health care provider that they may have been in contact with an infected individual," the press release said.

The university is delivering all spring 2020 courses remotely through the end of the semester, has canceled all major events through the beginning of May and has closed most campus buildings. An announcement has not yet been made on the May 9 commencement. 

More information can be found at go.boisestate.edu/coronavirus-response.

Micron employee: Micron has confirmed that an employee at one of the Boise sites has tested positive for COVID-19, KTVB reports. The patient had not been at a Micron facility in Boise for more than 20 days before being diagnosed, and is currently self-quarantining, according to the company.

"We continue to act out of an abundance of caution while maintaining continuity of our operations at our Boise sites," Micron said in a statement, as reported by KTVB. "Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, contractors and visitors."

No shut for Caldwell bars/restaurants: With zero confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canyon County, Caldwell officials said the city "will not be enforcing or recommending a bar and restaurant or business shut down."

Instead, city employees are working to encourage restaurants go to curbside or take-out methods. Officials say Caldwell will "remain flexible" and continue monitoring government recommendations and mandates. 

McCall: No visitors, please: City and health officials in McCall are urging non-residents not to visit for the time being, in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"We simply don't have enough stores, healthcare providers, medical tools or first responders to take care of an increase in population right now," McCall Mayor Bob Giles said in a press release. "We need to protect people's public health and safety as a top priority in our area and for the future."

Dr. Greg Irvine, St. Luke's McCall Medical Center chief of staff, stated,"Stay home and stay healthy, please allow us to do our job of taking care of our citizens."

St. Luke’s suspends elective surgeries: St. Luke's Health System is suspending all non-urgent/non-emergent operative and invasive procedures effective Monday, March 23. This move will help limit exposure risk to patients, staff and providers and will help conserve needed supplies, according to St. Luke's. 

Non-essential clinic visits will be suspended effective March 23, and some visits may be converted to non-traditional visits (e.g., telephone, video visits, e-visits) where available and appropriate; other appointments will be rescheduled.

Additionally, St. Luke’s is implemented new visitor procedures March 20. A no-visitor policy, with specific and limited exceptions, is meant to ensure a safe environment for patients, staff and providers. More information: www.stlukesonline.org.


Idaho could have 9-plus patients for every bed in outbreak: Idaho has fewer than 2,300 general care hospital beds statewide, with fewer than half of them estimated to be empty and available to take new patients on any given day, according to an Associated Press analysis of Centers of Medicare and Medicaid cost reports data. Find the full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone here.


Thursday, March 19

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Blaine County has jumped from five to 16, Gov. Brad Little announced Thursday evening. An additional person tested positive in the county, but lives out of state and has since returned home, according to the South Central Public Health District.

The Blaine County is home to Sun Valley. The governor is issuing a mandatory isolation order for the county, with more details to come.

The new cases bring the state total to 23 (not including the patient who lives out of state). At least two of the cases in Blaine County are health care workers, Little said.

The cases are in:

  • Ada County: 3
  • Blaine County: 17 (12 new, with one leaving the state to return home)
  • Teton County: 1
  • Twin Falls County: 1
  • Kootenai County: 1 (new as of Thursday)
  • Madison County: 1

There have been 10,442 cases and 150 deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of 4 p.m. Thursday. There have been no confirmed related deaths in Idaho.

Idaho's first case of community spread was announced Thursday, meaning the person had been infected without having traveled out of the state or knowingly coming into contact with anyone else who has the disease. The person, whose case was announced Wednesday, is a Blaine County man in his 40s.

The governor is issuing an isolation order for Blaine County, with details to come.

Of the new Blaine County cases, according to the health district:

  • Six individuals are male: one in his 30s, four in their 40s, and one in his 50s.
  • Six individuals are female: one under 20 years old, two in their 30s, two in their 50s, and one in her 70s.

Previous report:

Idaho's 12th case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Kootenai County, the first case in North Idaho. The patient is a man in his 60s who is experiencing only mild symptoms and has been advised to self-isolate.

There have been 10,442 cases and 150 deaths in the United States, according to Panhandle District Health. 

There have been no confirmed related deaths in Idaho. The state has one confirmed case of community spread of the novel coronavirus, officials announced Thursday. The case is not a new case — it was announced Wednesday in a press release — but it has been determined the Blaine County man in his 40s, who had COVID-19, had not traveled out of the state recently, nor did he have any known contact with anyone who has the virus.

“Community spread means at least one person has been infected with the virus in an area who is not sure how or where they became infected,” according to the release. "Public Health officials expect more confirmed cases in the community.”

Boise bans dine-in: Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said during a news conference Thursday that she would order the shutdown of bars and restaurants, but still allow takeout and delivery, BoiseDev.com reports. The order only impacts establishments inside Boise’s city limits.

“In the interest of public health, effective at midnight tonight, we will be closing dine-in bars and restaurants,” McLean said. "I do not take this disruption lightly. I recognize it disrupts our lives, our livelihoods.”

Drive-in, drive-up or takeout service will still be allowed.

The Idaho State Historical Society, starting Friday, is closing public access to the Old Idaho Penitentiary, Franklin and Stricker Ranch Historic Sites, the Idaho State Museum, and the Research Center at the Idaho State Archives. All programming and events are canceled or postponed until further notice. Essential agency services, as mandated by state statute, will still be offered during the public closure. This closure will be in effect until April 6, 2020, unless extended. Please visit history.idaho.gov/updates for regular updates, free online resources, and more information on services that will still be available during this time. Idaho State Historical Society Members who have an active membership during the month of March will receive a one-month extension to their membership at no additional cost.

Open Meetings: Gov. Brad Little suspended the requirement for the public to be able to physically attend open meetings held by government agencies, an addition to last week's state of emergency declaration.

"The suspension of this requirement is necessary to permit governing bodies of public agencies to continue to conduct the public's business during this emergency, while also ensuring the public's business is not conducted in secret," the proclamation said.

The rest of the Open Meetings Law is still in full effect; government agencies are still required to allow public attendance through telecommunications devices at meetings subject to the Open Meetings Act. Little is encouraging public agencies to take steps to ease access to meetings through telecommunications devices, including publishing meeting materials early and giving the public a chance to sign up to testify via telephone.

Northwest Nazarene University will transition to remote learning through the rest of the spring semester. Students are on an extended spring break through March 29 and will start remote learning March 30. All university faculty and staff who are able will begin working remotely March 23. Only those employees critical to maintaining the infrastructure of university operations will continue to work on campus. All university buildings are scheduled to close at 5 p.m. March 20. Residence halls will close at noon March 21.

Nampa School District: Nampa School District will switch to online classes for at least one week starting March 31. District and school offices will be closed for spring break starting March 20, but will open during normal office hours starting March 30 to answer questions and assist students and families. Online instruction will continue for at least that week, at which point district officials will evaluate whether or to bring students back to the classroom.

City of Meridian administrative offices closed at noon Thursday and city staff are working remotely. Meridian Fire Chief Mark Niemeyer was named the acting Emergency Operations Manager, and Deputy Chief of Operations Charlie Butterfield will be taking the role as acting fire chief.

“The City of Meridian will continue to provide business services to the community with few exceptions,” the city's release said. “Meridian City Council and the Planning & Zoning Commission will continue to conduct previously noticed public hearings, as required by state law. Critical and emergency services such as police, fire, water, and wastewater will continue to operate without interruption, and City parks remain open at this time.”

Meridian previously canceled all city-sponsored special events and programs until April 15.

Wednesday, March 18

6:15 p.m.: Two more cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in south central Idaho, including the first case in Twin Falls County and a fifth case in Blaine County. This brings the state total to 11.  The patient from Twin Falls County is a man in his 80s who was briefly hospitalized but is now recovering well at home, according the South Central Public Health District.

The other new case is in a Blaine County man in his 40s. He presented very mild symptoms and is also recovering well at home. 

“We’ve contacted all known close contacts of these individuals. They are self-isolating at home and haven’t shown any symptoms,” said Logan Hudson, SCPHD Public Health Division Administrator. “We will continue to investigate the movements of all confirmed cases to make sure everyone potentially exposed is being monitored.”

All four women in south central Idaho’s first cases are recovering well. Investigation shows transmission for the first three likely came from visitors to the area. The point of transmission for the fourth is still under investigation.

Idaho Department of Labor is closing its offices to public access starting March 19 through at least April 3. The public can still access the agency’s services online and through the phone.

Many of Labor services are available to the public on the agency’s website. Job seekers can register for work, look for jobs, research careers, file for unemployment insurance and learn about on-the-job training opportunities such as apprenticeships and Idaho Job Corps. Businesses can post job listings, pay unemployment insurance taxes, report new hires and more — all online.

Boise resolutions: Boise City Council adopted a resolution that establishes new leave policies related to the pandemic for city employees, keeps at least two city-operated day care centers open, blocks evictions for anyone in city rental properties and waives rent for the month of April. The resolution also mandates that the city will not cut off sewer service to anyone during the coming months, which mirrors similar decisions from Idaho Power and SUEZ to not cut off access to electricity or water to anyone based on ability to pay. Public hearings with significant local interest, like the current proposed luxury housing development near Boise State University that would demolish the affordable Ridenbaugh Apartment complex, will be postponed until gatherings are allowed.

City of Nampa utilities: No accounts will be shut off due to lack of payment for the foreseeable future. Payment plans can be arranged for customers financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. In-person payments will not be processed, however billing staff will process payments via website, phone 208-468-5711 or drive-thru drop box located outside utility billing. Questions can be emailed to utility@cityofnampa.us.

Idaho Power will temporarily suspend disconnections for homes and small businesses facing hardship during the pandemic. Customer service can be contacted at 208-388-2323 or 1-800-488-6151.

Coroner's office precautions: Ada County Coroner Dotti Owens in a statement released Wednesday said her office is taking extra precautions, especially in field responses, to protect the health of staff and community members. 

"With these precautions in mind, please do not feel alarmed if you see one of our medicolegal death investigators at a scene suited up in full protective gear," Owens said. "This gear does not mean they are responding to a COVID-19 death. We have a limited staff who provide an essential service to the community, and we are determined to protect their health by all means necessary in order to prevent any disruption to the level of service we provide to you. All cases are being treated with the utmost mindfulness of the possible hazards relating to a novel coronavirus death."

Eagle City Hall: Eagle's City Hall will be closed to walk-in services starting Wednesday. Staff will remain on-site, and residents who need to conduct "essential" business will need to make an appointment.

Visitors with an appointment will be required to wash their hands before meeting with staff and visitors without appointments will be required to make one. Business can also be conducted online at cityofeagle.org, via e-mail or over the phone, according to a press release.

Eagle's library, the Landing Community Center and the Museum of History and Preservation closed last Friday and will remain closed for the foreseeable future. 

Tuesday, March 17

Gov. Brad Little will host press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday to update Idahoans on new guidance and recommendations to protect residents during the novel coronavirus outbreak. 

The press conference, held in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office, will be streamed on the Governor’s Facebook page: facebook.com/governorbradlittle

9th case confirmed

Four more cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Idaho Tuesday, bringing the state total to nine, up from one case on Friday.

Ada County has three confirmed cases, Blaine County has four, Madison County has one and Teton County has one.

Ada County's third case is in a woman under the age of 50, according to Central District Health. She is recovering well in her home under isolation and has mild symptoms that did not require hospitalization. Officials believe she got sick while traveling, and there's no known association with Ada County’s previously identified cases. An investigation is underway to identify potential contact risk exposures.

The county's other two cases are in a woman in her 50s who is believed to have contracted the illness at an out-of-state conference, and a man in his 50s who "is presumed to have had the same shared risk exposure to the first case identified in Ada County," Central District Health said in a release Saturday. Neither required hospitalization. 

Madison County's first case, announced Tuesday, is a BYU-Idaho student in his 20s with recent out-of-state travel to a COVID-19 affected area, according to Eastern Idaho Public Health. He is in his apartment in Rexburg recovering from mild symptoms and did not require hospitalization.

The Rexburg patient became symptomatic on Sunday, March 8, returned from out of state to Madison County on Wednesday, March 11. Since he wasn’t feeling well, he stayed in his apartment until he sought testing for COVID-19 on Thursday, March 12. His health care provider ruled out influenza, discussed exposure risk, and determined that a COVID-19 test was necessary, according to the health district. A commercial lab confirmed the results. 

After the test, he was asked to self-isolate in his apartment pending notification of his test results.

Epidemiologists with EIPH will determine reasonable risk criteria for locations visited by this individual and any of his close contacts who were possibly exposed. If other people are found to have possibly been exposed, public health officials will contact them, provide guidance, will monitor them closely for symptoms, and perform testing on them if deemed appropriate.

Blaine County, home to Sun Valley, announced two new cases Tuesday, bringing the county total to four. One of the new cases is in a woman over the age of 50, according to South Central Public Health. She, too, is recovering well in her home under isolation and was not hospitalized. The point of transmission is under investigation. 

The other confirmed case in a female patient over the age of 80 in Blaine County. She is recovering well in a local hospital under isolation. Point of transmission is under investigation.

The Health and Welfare Department will continue to update coronavirus.idaho.gov for the latest numbers and Idaho-specific information. A total of 353 people have been tested for the illness, according to the site, and 37 people are being monitored.

Canyon vehicle registration office: The Motor Vehicle Registration Office at the DMV will be closed to the public beginning at noon Tuesday. The closure will remain in place through Friday, March 27. The office staff will continue working during the public closure and people can still renew vehicle registrations via mail or online through the ITD website. Renewals can also be completed by phone at 208-455-6020. The Assessor’s Office will reevaluate over the next two weeks and provide additional updates as they become available.

Saint Alphonsus is instituting a brief screening protocol for patients and visitors at its facility entrances in Boise, Nampa, Ontario and Baker City, starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday.

This step is in line with CDC guidelines and taken out of "abundance of caution to ensure the safety and well-being of all who enter our hospitals," according to the hospital.

Emergency departments will remain open 24/7, while main hospital entrances will be open during normal business hours. Other hospital entrances will be locked and directional signage for visitors will be provided.

Gov. Brad Little: Not alarmed, but cautious and thoughtful: 

Little posted a video message to Twitter Monday. He said, in part: "Now that Idaho has several confirmed cases of coronavirus across the state, we are reinforcing that our focus is to slow the spread of coronavirus for two main reasons: No. 1 to protect the elderly and the health compromised, and secondly to preserve capacity in our health care facilities. If we don't do our part to control the spread of coronavirus then our health care facilities will be overrun with patients in a short period of time. That's precisely what we're trying to avoid. Not everyone will get coronavirus, and for the majority population, the coronavirus resembles a cold or mild flu. But that just emphasizes the need for us to follow the guidance of our public health experts so we can protect those who could get very sick if you spread it to them. Most of all be thoughtful about your actions. We must not be alarmed, but we must be cautious."

Monday, March 16:

Boys & Girls Club of Nampa Facebook announcement: "Safety is the number one priority of the Boys & Girls Club of Nampa, and we are doing everything possible to keep children, our staff, and volunteers protected from the COVID-19 virus. Due to the recent cases in Idaho, we have decided to close the Club until March 30th. During that time, we will have our janitors deep clean the Club to ensure that all kids, staff, and volunteers are safe when the Club reopens."

Boys & Girls Clubs of Ada County announcement: As our local school districts have announced closures, our Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to focus our remaining Club operations on providing emergency childcare to healthcare workers, first responders, essential community personnel, and parents who absolutely must continue working to maintain their employment.

At this time, the Moseley Center, Meridian Club, and Kuna Club will remain open. (The Peregrine and Desert Sage clubs are closed.) We respectfully ask everyone to only register in cases of absolute necessity. It is absolutely crucial to the health of our community that all children and adults who are able to stay home during this time do so.

Please do not send your child to the Club with any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, or shortness of breath. If members display any of these symptoms, they will be isolated and parents will be contacted immediately.

Check www.adaclubs.org for updates.

Boise School District and Boise Parks and Recreation: To ease the burden on parents who must work and are in high-demand jobs such as first responders and health care, Boise School District and Boise Parks and Recreation announced Monday that they will offer limited, free childcare at four sites from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 17, through Friday, March 27.

Sites will be limited to 24 children each. The first priority will be given to Boise School District K-6 students. Within the first three days of attendance at either program, parents will be required to provide a note from their employer that states their current employment schedule. (Register here.)

Breakfast, lunch and a snack will be provided by Boise School District food service staff.

Staff will adhere to CDC guidelines regarding hygiene for both students and staff. Each site will have a nurse available to screen students at drop off.

Locations:

  • Grace Jordan Elementary School, Just for Kids (JFK), 6411 Fairfield Ave, Boise
  • Whitney Elementary School, Just for Kids (JFK), 1609 S Owyhee St, Boise
  • Morley Nelson Elementary, Boise Parks & Recreation Community Center, 7701 W Northview St, Boise
  • Whittier Elementary School, Boise Parks & Recreation, Community Center, 301 N 29th St., Boise

Schools move up closure dates: School districts in Caldwell, Emmett, Kuna, Nampa, and Vallivue will cancel school for students Tuesday through the end of this week. Schools will also be closed the following week for spring break.

The decision to close schools a day earlier than planned was based on federal direction Monday that groups of people be limited to 10 or fewer and that parents educate their children at home as prevention measures, according to an email from Allison Westfall, spokeswoman for the Kuna and Caldwell school districts.

The districts will continue plans for teachers to use the remaining time to prepare instructional options for a possible extended school closure after spring break, which goes through Friday, March 27.

Boise and West Ada school districts closed schools Monday through the end of spring break. Idaho's public colleges and universities, as well as most private institutions, have moved classes online.

COVID-19 Fund: The Idaho Community Foundation, United Way of Treasure Valley and Idaho Nonprofit Center have created the COVID-19 Response Fund for Idaho.

The new fund will provide grants to organizations that will provide "philanthropic support and services to low-income, vulnerable people and families." Those grants will be both immediate and long-term funding for organizations all over Idaho that will help people struggling economically due to the novel coronavirus, according to a press release.

Donors can support specific regions or the entire state and can give at www.idahocf.org/covid-19.

ACHD: The Ada County Highway District is telling its workforce to do their jobs from home, has canceled all public involvement meetings for the next few months and will conduct all commission meetings via telephone.

ACHD Commission meetings will allow the public to attend, but seating is limited due to a six-foot distance requirement put in place by health officials. The commission will telephone in to conduct business, and the public can call into meetings using a number that ACHD will release soon. ACHD staff and employees will still be available via phone and e-mail.

"Crucial operations at ACHD will continue, and leadership of the Highway District  will continue to assess the situation," the press release said.

A press release Sunday reported the district schools would remain open on Tuesday, but officials followed federal direction provided Monday that

"Staff will be planning how instruction would be provided should school need to be closed for an extended period after the March 23-27 Spring Break," the Sunday release stated. "Custodial staff will support the deep cleaning of facilities and plan for other services that may be needed such as meals, access to internet service, etc. … The decision wasn’t made lightly and reflects hours of discussions and consultations."

Gov. Brad Little told school leaders Sunday afternoon he will not be issuing a statewide order to close schools. Little and Idaho Department of Health and Welfare officials urged local leaders to consult with their area public health districts and make decisions locally, Idaho Education News reports. Prior to Little’s conference call, the Coeur d’Alene and Blaine County school districts had already announced plans to close school until the first week of April.

The Idaho Education Association, the state's teacher's union, earlier Sunday morning called on the state to close schools for at least three weeks.

JUMP: Jack's Urban Meeting Place, a creative center and community gather place, announced that starting Monday they would be closing their doors "until further notice."

"As we do our part to help flatten the outbreak peak, we are aware of the variety of new challenges the pandemic has created. Our commitment to supporting our mission of inspiring human potential is unwavering. We will continue to monitor and reevaluate the situation and make adjustments to our protocols as necessary," a press release said.

Wi-Fi: Sparklight (formerly Cable One) announced Monday that is opening Wi-Fi hotspots across its footprint for public use during the coronavirus crisis in order to keep individuals and communities connected to online resources.

Sparklight’s Wi-Fi hotspot can be accessed in the Sparklight local office parking lot, 2101 E. Karcher Road in Nampa.

Sparklight, as of March 13, made available unlimited data on all internet services for 30 days, and offered payment deferrals and late fee waivers for 60 days. The company plans to reassess after 30 days based on the continued impact and evolving nature of the virus. Customers can call 877-692-2253 for more information.

CenturyLink has suspended data usage limits for consumer customers due to COVID-19, starting Monday for the next 60 days. During that time the company will waive late fees and won't terminate a residential or small business customer’s service due to financial circumstances associated with the outbreak. "We’re prepared to ensure traffic flows smoothly across our network, regardless of increased demand," according to company release Monday.

Meals on Wheels: Though senior centers in Boise and Meridian are temporarily closed, Metro Meals on Wheels will continue to provide "curbside" meals there. Seniors who rely on the affordable lunch option normally offered at the senior center 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, Boise) and the Meridian Senior Center (1920 N Records Way). 

This effort requires increased supplies and costs more to provide. Click here to donate to the nonprofit. 

Boise closures: The city of Boise on Tuesday joined Ada and Canyon counties and other cities in a joint emergency declaration.

"This allows us to protect our most vulnerable populations, adds protection for consumers, and enables us all to recover costs we’ll have put into place to protect our staff and the community," Mayor Lauren McLean said in a news release.

Effective Tuesday morning, public access to all city facilities except the airport will cease until further notice. City services will still be available through call-in, online and mail and we are working on new ways for the public to access services. City staff will report into their work locations as usual. Field services like parking, building inspectors, etc. will continue for the time being. Tuesday’s City Council meeting will proceed as scheduled using virtual technology to allow remote access.

The following Boise closures take effect Tuesday, March 17:

  • City Hall
  • City Hall West
  • Boise Public Library facilities, including the Main Library and each branch library
  • Fort Boise, including the Dick Eardley Senior Center (Meals on Wheels meals will still be provided through curbside pick-up service)
  • School-based Community Centers
  • Idaho IceWorld
  • Zoo Boise
  • Quail Hollow and Warm Springs Golf Courses
  • All citywide public programming and public outreach will be cancelled until further notice. This includes:
  • Parks and Recreation activities, classes, events and leagues
  • All Library and Arts & History programs and events
  • All public open house, town halls or other similar gatherings, including city-hosted neighborhood meetings

There will be no special event permits issues for eight weeks; however, city staff will continue to process and be ready when appropriate. McLean encourages community events of 50 or more people to be postponed in the interest of public safety.

Meridian Senior Center: The center will be closed March 16-31 as a precaution.

State funding: In response to the governor’s emergency declaration, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Monday approved an additional $500,000 for the state Division of Human Resources and an additional $800,000 for the Office of Information Technology for coronavirus response. This $1.3 million one-time from the state general fund is aside from the $2 million emergency appropriation already approved by the Legislature for coronavirus response; that was targeted at medical supplies, testing and community mitigation efforts. These two new supplemental appropriations are for the operations of state government. Read more on the Eye on Boise blog.

Prisons: The Idaho Department of Correction has suspended visitation in all its facilities and reentry centers across the state. The department made that decision Friday night, according to department spokesman Jeff Ray. The department has also suspended all volunteer programs, and asked volunteers not to come to facilities.

County declarations: Ada and Canyon counties and the associated cities of Boise, Caldwell, Eagle, Garden City, Greenleaf, Kuna, Melba, Meridian, Middleton, Nampa, Notus, Star, and Wilder are making disaster emergency declarations Monday, following the lead of Gov. Brad Little, who made a similar declaration for the state Friday.

The city of Parma will make its declaration later this week.

"The decision to approve disaster emergency declarations is not a result of a dire or immediate need for resources. It is being done now – ahead of any crisis – so communities can proactively pursue additional resources that might be needed to help prevent the community spread of COVID-19 in the weeks and months to come," according to a joint press release from the counties. "These emergency declarations will better position us to coordinate efforts and achieve our primary objective — slowing the rate of any spread in our region."

No luncheon: The Caldwell Chamber of Commerce has canceled its luncheon this week.

Refugee community: The International Rescue Committee's Boise office has translated CDC’s COVID-19 guidance into give languages and shared it with partners and the community. IRC teams are running information sessions to demonstrate best practices in hygiene, communicating symptoms, when to go to report to medical personnel, and when to self-isolate.

Food pantry: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Southwest Idaho District Council has created a new system for all food pantry clients to get their needed groceries and to remain in their cars. Signs are set up to guide pantry clients through the process with the help of volunteers. The system takes effect Tuesday, March 17, at the Boise Overland food pantry, 3209 W. Overland Road. Pantry hours:

  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday
  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday
  • 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday

Sunday, March 15:

Idaho has five confirmed cases of COVID-19, including two in Ada County, two in Blaine County and one in Teton County.

SCHOOLS

Boise School District: Schools closed March 16-27. Office staff at all schools will be available Monday for parents to pick up student medications, personal belongings, etc., according to the district. All athletics and activities, including practices, have been suspended until further notice. The District’s child care provider, Just for Kids, will also be closed.

The district will open emergency K-6 day camps at four schools Monday for parents who qualify. The camps will be run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday at Taft, Morley, Whitney and Garfield elementary schools.

Food pantries are also available at the district’s six community schools from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.:

  • Frank Church High School - 8051 W. Salt Creek Ct., Boise
  • Garfield Elementary - 1914 S. Broadway Ave., Boise
  • Morley Elementary - 7701 Northview St., Boise
  • Taft Elementary - 3722 N. Anderson St., Boise
  • Whittier Elementary - 301 N. 29th St., Boise
  • Whitney Elementary - 1609 S. Owyhee St., Boise

West Ada School District: The district originally planned to hold classes Monday, but changed course Sunday night and will now be closed through March 30. 

"We are focused on doing what is best for our students, our families, and the community as a whole," district Superintendent Mary Ann Ranells said in a statement. "Events are changing rapidly, and we will be meeting often to review what steps we will need to take next."

Middleton School District: Public schools are closed now through March 29, when the district will reassess the situation. The district's normal spring break falls March 23-27.

Administrative staff will be at the schools on Monday, March 16, from 9 a.m. until noon to accommodate any students needing to gather items left at the schools. Students and parents are asked only come to the schools to obtain essential items.

The Southern Idaho Conference decided Sunday that all athletics and activities will be postponed through March 29. It will be further evaluated by the SIC superintendents after that time.

YMCA CLOSURES: 

The Treasure Valley YMCA will close the following facilities and sites for an initial period of one week, from March 16 to March 22:

  • Caldwell YMCA
  • Downtown Boise YMCA
  • South Meridian YMCA
  • West Boise YMCA and City of Boise Aquatic Center
  • Healthy Living Center
  • YMCA Camp at Horsethief Reservoir

Child development sites will close, and reopen, corresponding with the closure of school districts covering their service area (starting Monday in Boise and Wednesday in the Caldwell and Vallivue school districts). Parents will be notified immediately by email.

"COVID-19 has fundamentally disrupted the way we do business; at the moment the Treasure Valley is not experiencing a community spread, closing facilities is intended to give us time to prepare," according to a press release from the organization Sunday night. "Closing facilities for one week will give us time to learn more about how to offer important programs and services to the community in the safest way possible, and adapt to meet critical needs."

The Y will continue to keep members and the public informed and updated as any new developments become available. Please check our website www.ymcatvidaho.org, and social media outlets for the most current information.

2C CHILD CENTERS: The YMCA Child Care Centers in the Caldwell and Vallivue school districts (Caldwell Guided Discovery and Caldwell After School program) will be closed starting Wednesday, March 18, Y officials alerted parents over email Sunday evenings. The child care sites are slated to reopen concurrently with the reopening of the Caldwell or Vallivue school districts.

These YMCA Child Care Centers will be open Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17. Those who are in programs located inside the Caldwell Family YMCA will still be able to enter the facility and access the classroom.

YMCA child care coordinators will continue to be available via email and phone.

"We will send out additional information regarding tuition by end of day on Wednesday March 18, 2020," according to the email. "We will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with local and state officials and will continue to communicate with parents via e-mail. Additionally, we encourage everyone to regularly check the CDC’s website or Central District Health, for important updates and safety information. The American Academy of Pediatrics also has helpful information specific to children and families."

CANYON COUNTY: All non-essential visits to Canyon County facilities planned for Monday should be postponed, including to the courthouse, administration building and DMV. Persons with essential business that can be addressed online or by telephone are encouraged to use those alternatives.

The county made the announcement Sunday night based on information and direction from Southwest District Health and the county’s emergency operations manager.

The Idaho Supreme Court has also issued directions regarding criminal and civil court proceedings. All persons scheduled to report as a juror, or participate in any criminal court matter, on Monday, March 16, should do so. Otherwise, county officials recommend contacting your attorney or monitoring the Canyon County webpage for additional information before coming to the courthouse, according to the release.

Ada County's courthouse is closed to the general public starting Monday, and there are restrictions in place at the federal courthouse.

CWI: EARLY SPRING BREAK

College of Western Idaho has extended its spring break to March 16 to April 4. This includes:

  • Academic Transfer and Career & Technical Education
  • Dual Credit on-campus
  • Workforce Development
  • Basic Skills Education

Spring break had originally been scheduled for March 23-28.

Travel: The college asks students are asked to exercise prudence and caution in traveling and consult with Center for Disease Control information.

CWI teachers and staff are to use the time to work toward moving courses online as necessary, according to the college's release.

The college will post updates to cwi.edu.

PRIDE FESTIVAL

The Boise Pride Festival has been postponed from June to September.

BOGUS BASIN CHANGES

Bogus Basin announced Sunday that the nonprofit recreation area will close all lodge facilities, end night skiing, and make other operational adjustments in an effort to keep its slopes open, while providing precautions against COVID-19. “We are going to do everything we can to provide safe, outdoor recreation during these trying times while preventing contact between employees and customers,” General Manager Brad Wilson said in a press release.

Effective Monday, March 16:

  • JR Simplot and Pioneer Lodges will be accessible for lockers and restrooms only. No indoor seating will be available. Guests are encouraged to minimize the amount of time spent inside the facilities.
  • Night skiing will be closed for the remainder of the season. Night-only season pass holders will be allowed to use their passes during the day.
  • Nordic operations will be closed for the remainder of the season.
  • Weekday operating hours will be 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • At this time, the current lift operating schedule will continue.
  • The Double R Ranch BBQ Smokehouse will be open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for grab-and-go, prepackaged food and beverage items only.
  • Guests are encouraged to bring their own brown bag meals to eat on the outdoor plaza, or in their vehicles.
  • The Rental Shop will be closed for the remainder of the season.
  • The Ski & Snowboard School will be closed for the remainder of the season.
  • The Glade Runner Mountain Coaster will be closed for the remainder of the season.
  • The Tubing Hill will be closed for the remainder of the season.
  • The Downtown Sales Office will remain open.
  • The Simplot Lodge Mountain Ticket Office will remain open.

For updates on this rapidly changing situation, visit www.bogusbasin.org.

Tamarack plans to continue winter operations through its projected closing date of April 5 but is canceling some events:

  • Brewski, March 21 (credits for tickets purchased will be issued automatically in the coming days)
  • Fireworks Show, March 28
  • State of Idaho Pond Skim Championship, April 4

Sun Valley and Snowbasin Resorts will close Monday for the remainder of the winter season. The closure includes lift operations, ski school, dining outlets, retail and rental services. In Sun Valley, village operations including restaurants and lodging will continue to operate with limited services until further notice. All winter lift tickets, lessons, or rentals that were purchased online and dated March 16, 2020 or later will be refunded automatically within 14 business days, according to sunvalley.com/COVID19.

Saturday, March 14: 

Idaho's first case of COVID-19 was confirmed Friday in an Ada County woman, hours after the governor declared a state of emergency in order to free up access to federal resources. Four more cases were confirmed by Saturday night.

As officials and community members work to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, here's the latest update on how local government agencies and private businesses are responding: 

SCHOOLS: Idaho's four public higher education institutions are moving classes online, starting with Boise State University on Monday through the end of the spring semester. 

Boise State students are being encouraged to return home as soon as practical, though the university will continue to provide housing and dining services to those who need to stay on campus. The university hasn't made a final decision on holding the May 9 commencement ceremonies.

University of Idaho will have spring break starting Monday, and start virtual classes on March 23.

Lewis-Clark State College will begin online classes as soon as possible, following a test of virtual learning early next week.

Idaho State University started spring break on Monday, which was earlier than planned. Online instruction will start March 30, while faculty use this time to prepare.

Concordia University School of Law in downtown Boise is also moving to online-only courses and canceling or postponing events.

Northwest Nazarene University's spring break runs March 14-30, and after that courses will be delivered remotely. Face-to-face learning is scheduled to resume April 14 following Easter break. All university-sponsored travel has been canceled until further notice, unless approved by a vice president. 

The College of Idaho will shift exclusively to online classes beginning on March 30, and continue through the end of the spring semester. The college suspended all spring athletic competition for the remainder of the season. 

ISU closed its Meridian campus for cleaning Friday after learning a student may have been exposed to the coronavirus at a recent out-of-state conference, where at least one case of COVID-19 was confirmed, according to an email sent to ISU students Friday. The student and about a dozen other members of the Meridian campus community are in self-isolation, the email said. Classes have been canceled, and community-facing clinics were closed Friday.

ISU-Meridian shares a campus with the West Ada School District and Renaissance High School. A spokesman for the school district said both the district office and high school remained open Friday.

K-12: Individual school districts can close down if their directors feel it is necessary, Gov. Brad Little said. Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said school district superintendents had a teleconference Thursday when they discussed ways classes could continue for students in the event shutdowns did occur. A majority of Idaho’s school districts are able to conduct classes online, she said, and the superintendents also discussed options for pick-up points for homework for younger children for whom online classes would not be appropriate.

AARP MEETING: Health and state officials at noon Tuesday will host a conference call providing information to older people and caregivers. AARP Idaho, Gov. Brad Little, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen and Idaho State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn will host. Questions may also be submitted ahead of time via email at aarpid@aarp.org. Participants can join by dialing toll-free 866-767-0637 or register in advance by visiting vekeo.com/aarpidaho.

COUNTIES: The Board of Canyon County Commissioners issued a statement Friday saying business operations in the county will continue, but the board is prepared to end all non-essential actives, postpone public meetings and reschedule events if necessary. 

The governments of Ada and Canyon counties are working in a multi-agency group to determine best practices, strategies, and identify resource needs in the weeks to come, Ada County announced Friday night.

COURTS: As a result of an Idaho Supreme Court Order the Ada County Courthouse and Courthouse Complex starting Monday will be at reduced operations, the county announced Friday night. Attorneys, jurors, parties, witnesses, victim support persons, county personnel, and judges are permitted to enter the courthouse. All other members of the public will not be allowed to enter until further notice.

Additionally, the U.S. Courts for the District of Idaho is instructing anyone who had traveled to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea or the Seattle/Tacoma area in the past 14 days not to come to the courthouse, but instead contact their attorney or court staff. Other district court operations, as of Friday afternoon, were continuing as normal at the James A. McClure Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, 550 W. Fort St. in Boise.

  • Those called to jury duty are instructed to contact the jury office of the division where they were requested to appear.
  • Those scheduled for a naturalization ceremony should contact the U.S. Court
  • Naturalization Clerk’s Office at 208-334-9387.
  • For District Court or Bankruptcy Court matters, please contact the Boise division at 208-334-1361.
  • For probation matters contact 208-334-1630.

INTERNET: Sparklight, an internet provider in the Treasure Valley, will waive late fees for the next 60 days and is temporarily giving all customers unlimited data. Customers in need of a payment deferral can call 877-692-2253.

CANCELLATIONS/POSTPONEMENTS

Southwest District Health recommends organizations postpone or cancel mass gatherings.

The Caldwell City Clerk’s office is cancelling special event permits for gatherings of 250 people or more on city property, including for Indian Creek Plaza. (Caldwell Train Depot events for less than 250 people will not be affected.)

Nampa City Council approved an emergency resolution Friday prohibiting gatherings of 250 people or more at the Ford Idaho Center and the Nampa Civic Center through March 31. The venues are working to reschedule performances, and fans are encouraged to retain their tickets.

Other recent announcements about canceled events:

  • Caldwell State of the City Address scheduled in early April
  • Caldwell Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council Annual Fundraising Dinner
  • All Caldwell recreation events, Event Center events, the Annual Easter Egg Scramble
  • Family Fun Day at Whittenberger Park/Rotary Pond in Caldwell scheduled for June 13
  • Boise Philharmonic events through April 30
  • Nampa Library programs through the end of March

Delayed or postponed: 

  • The Boise Farmer's Market spring opening
  • Caldwell Swing into Spring at the Library’ Gala
  • According to a release posted Friday afternoon, the city of Boise's COVID-19 task force requested the Boise Farmers Market postpone its spring opening. 
  • Caldwell Fine Arts' The High Kings concert, which had been scheduled for March 26 at Jewett Auditorium. Officials are working to reschedule the event but will refund tickets if it's canceled.
  • All events held in the Canyon County Fair building through the end of March
  • Idaho Jr Jammers Jamboree at NNU, which had been scheduled for March 21

Bogus Basin remains open but has cancelled all upcoming mountain events and discontinued bus service. 

Below is a roundup of Thursday's news:

BOISE MAYOR DELAYS CITY EVENTS

Citing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean announced Thursday all employee gatherings of 250 people or more have been postponed through April 10.

City officials will also consider the delay of other city events as the need arises, according to a news release from the mayor’s office. McLean is also encouraging other organizations to consider postponing gatherings of more than 250 people as well.

The announcement comes a day after Treefort Music Fest announced the annual festival would be postponed until September.

In addition to that, McLean announced the city has suspended all out-of-state business travel for its employees through April.

The release cites the rate of the spread of the virus as one factor in the decisions. Idaho currently has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, although the state laboratory had tested 93 people as of Thursday, according to a state website providing information about the health concern, coronavirus.idaho.gov. Eleven people are currently being monitored as of Thursday, according to that site.

“It is important for our community to come together to protect our most vulnerable populations,” McLean is quoted as saying in the release. “While various residents may not be sick or experiencing symptoms, there is the chance for them to carry the virus to those most at risk. These measures are taken in an abundance of caution, and I ask that organizations be willing to do their part in helping slow the spread, when and if the virus is detected in our community. There are no known cases at this time, and we continue to work closely with city, county and state agencies in our preparations and actions taken.”

FILM FEST CANCELLED

Sun Valley Film Festival announced Thursday that this year’s festival would be cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.

“We are actively supporting the global and local effort to combat this pandemic by cancelling this year’s Festival. The health and safety of our community and all of our participants is our top priority and we know this is the right and responsible decision. We look forward to seeing you all next year for our 10th anniversary in 2021,” stated Festival Executive Director Teddy Grennan.

The news comes one day after Treefort officials announced the music festival is being postponed until September.

The press release goes on to say that festival staff will “communicate next steps with its supporters, partners, pass and ticket holders as soon as possible.”

ATHLETICS CANCELLATIONS

Boise State University indefinitely suspected all athletic events. The Mountain West Conference also suspending competition in all sports.

The NCAA canceled all winter and spring sports championships.

The Big Sky Tournament (men’s and women’s college basketball) in Boise was canceled. The Big 12, Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC also canceled their respective tournaments.

The Idaho High School Activities Association was in talks as of Thursday evening about altering, postponing or canceling Idaho’s spring seasons that include baseball, softball, tennis, golf and track.

EXPO EVENTS CANCELLED

Ada County is cancelling all events at Expo Idaho through April 30, and will restrict its employees’ non-essential work travel for the next two months.

The Board of Ada County Commissioners made the decision to restrict travel through May 2020 due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in neighboring states, and chose to stop events at Expo Idaho to help slow the potential transmission.

“Our primary concern is ensuring that our communities, and our staff are healthy and safe,” Chairwoman Kendra Kenyon said in a press release. “Especially in light of the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic and with the restrictions (President Donald) Trump is starting to place on travel and events, we are following suit in Ada County.”

The Boise Roadster Show, scheduled to begin Friday, was already shut down, Kenyon said.

“We will be revisiting everything on a weekly basis to see where things are going and will get those things rescheduled,” she added.

Ada County will take a case-by-case look at events planned for Barber Park’s Education and Event Center until May 31.

Ada County Operations has been conducting more thorough cleanings of its facilities since last week, while Ada County Emergency Management has begun working collaboratively with Canyon County and public health officials to plan for any potential outbreak.

OFFICES OPEN IN DC

The Idaho Congressional delegation announced Thursday that offices in Washington, D.C., will remain open.

No cases have been reported in any delegation members’ office.

State offices will also remain open for all four members of the delegation — Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo, and Reps. Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson — and future decisions will be made in consultation with health and state officials. The delegation is doing as much work as possible via phone and email, and their offices will still respond to Idahoans’ correspondence in a timely manner, according to the release.

HOSPITAL UPDATES

The Saint Alphonsus Health System will be placing restrictions on visitors in an effort to reduce COVID-19 exposure.

Locations in Idaho and Oregon will be subject to the following restrictions:

  • Visitors with a cough, wheezing, shortness of breath or congestion, or a fever above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, will be given a face mask and asked to seek medical care or return home.
  • Patients with respiratory symptoms or fever who are presenting for a diagnosis, treatment or other care will be offered a mask before entering a care location.
  • One visit per patient at a time.
  • No visitors under 14 years old.
  • Do not visit if you’re sick.

Only immediate family, patient advocates and clergy who meet these criteria will be allowed to see patients.

Visitors are reminded to stay on top of their hygiene: wash hands frequently with soap and water, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home if you are ill.

Additionally, West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell, out of “an abundance of caution,” is screening visitors and patients for COVID-19 and asking people who are sick not to visit anyone in the hospital.

The St. Luke’s Health System Summit, scheduled for April 14, has been postponed to a to-be-determined date.