Gov. Brad Little did the right thing in extending the statewide stay-home order for another two weeks. We’re glad he is listening to public health experts over pushback from lawmakers in his own party and anti-government advocates from his hometown.
We too want our community to get back to work and back to normal life. The economic pain and uncertainty is a reality for most of us. But rushing to reopen everything will only put people in danger and open the door to an unmanageable spike in illnesses.
The state’s largest business association, the sheriffs' association and local mayors and county commissioners have expressed support for Little’s leadership.
“If restrictions were to be removed too quickly, and the virus was to spread like wildfire through the population, then consumers would pull back drastically and for a longer period of time,” Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry stated Wednesday. “We support the governor in not bending to political pressure, but putting people before politics and making decisions based on science.”
Others, including Idaho Republican Party Chairman and former U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador and House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, have questioned the statewide order and called for local control instead. Anti-government advocate Ammon Bundy held an Easter service in Emmett where he lives, which is also Little's hometown.
“The entirety of the state in no way meets the existing CDC requirements for a stay-at-home order and in many parts of our state no cases even exist,” Rep. Megan Blanksma, R-Hammett, said in email to legislators Tuesday. “Businesses should be open, and people should be able to go about their lives.”
Little addressed these concerns Wednesday.
“I”m always concerned and interested in the opinions of the duly elected legislators in Idaho, but as I view my responsibility from a statewide basis, I have to do what’s right for the safety of the people in the state of Idaho,” he said. “And I’m keenly aware there’s places in the state where to their knowledge they don’t have any spread. but because we don’t have any testing, we are not fully in that. And the other issue is those are the areas with the least amount of health care capacity. … I always take their advice and council, but I gotta do what I gotta do for the safety of Idaho.”
This board also supports local control — in most situations. But what we're facing now is unprecedented, and this virus can spread quickly and silently before a community even knows it's present. Statewide leadership and a unified approach is the right move for what we now face.
What we hope to see next is more rapid support for local businesses and for workers who have been laid off or furloughed, and for the state to use every resource available to help those who are suffering the most through this. The Legislature did bolster the rainy day fund this session, and we hope to see it used wisely to ease the burden the outbreak has created.
We also urge the state to make available more widespread testing and to step up its tracking and reporting of data. The public and policymakers need reliable and uniform reporting of statistics so we are equipped to respond to this crisis.
Kudos to local mayors who have stepped up to communicate their support of the order and get information to residents, such as the city of Nampa’s emergency response efforts called Nampa Ready, a comprehensive website with updates, contacts and resources.
It’s been just over a month since Idaho’s first confirmed case. We now have nearly 1,600 cases of this unfamiliar illness. We encourage everyone to adhere to the governor’s order, continue social distancing, and wear a mask in public. This is not a time for grandstanding or gathering just to proclaim your individual rights. Think about the good of your community.
“There is no vaccine today,” Little said. “And we are far from achieving herd immunity to this virus. But the statewide order is working, your efforts are working. We can only imagine how many more cases and deaths we would have today if we hadn’t sacrificed together to slow the spread.”