Tommy Ahlquist

Tommy Ahlquist, CEO of Ball Ventures Ahlquist, seen Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, in Meridian.

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We live in unprecedented times in our country and in Idaho. COVID-19 has changed everything about normal life and has forced each of us to come together for the greater good of others and our community.

As a former ER physician and owner of Saltzer Health, I have been vocal about our need to crush the curve in Idaho through social distancing. While the vast majority of patients recover quickly from COVID-19, many do not. Those who become ill, quickly can overwhelm our ability to care for them in our hospitals. In Idaho, we do not need to look any further than Blaine County. I speak almost daily to friends who are ER docs all over our country on the front lines. This illness is serious. It is not “the flu” and has our nation’s brightest minds anxious and worried about how to contain COVID-19 until we have better treatments and a vaccine.

The medical concerns in our country are only part of the problem. Because we were underprepared for this pandemic, our economy has come crashing down. Business owners of all sizes are hurting, unemployment has skyrocketed, and uncertainty is hurting every sector with more questions every day on how we recover and get back to work. We desperately need to get Idaho back to work and that effort will need to be coordinated and thoughtful.

No one wants to get the economy rolling more than I do. As many of you know, I have been working with a large group of CEOs who are working around the clock for private sector solutions to this very difficult problem. Please visit CrushTheCurveIdaho.com for more information. Our business community agrees with the medical and scientific experts around the country that the only solution is aggressive testing and practices to keep workers safe so that we can get back to work as soon as possible. If we get this wrong, we will be in the exact same mess again very soon.

With all of this said, I feel it is important for me to publicly support Gov. Little and his decision to extend the stay at home order. As his former political rival during the Republican primary, but more importantly his friend, I have watched him work tirelessly to understand what is best for our people. He is listening to the medical experts. He is working around the clock for solutions. He loves the families and businesses of Idaho and I give him my full support on his decision.

I am saddened and disappointed with some politicians in Idaho who have chosen to politicize a medical pandemic and feed on the fear of our people. A crisis brings out the best in some and the worst in others. I saw this with my own two eyes in the ER when a critical patient rolled through the doors, and I am witnessing it now.

I encourage all Idahoans to listen to the medical experts and the epidemiologists as we claw our way out of this crisis. Support Gov. Little and his team. They have our best interests in mind, and I applaud the courage it takes at the moment of crisis to do the right thing.

The term has become a little cliche already, but “we are in this together.” How we respond during this crisis as individuals, families, businesses and communities will define who we are. I encourage Idaho to draw upon our heritage and our best selves. Choose to be part of the solution. Let’s come together, test our people, and develop protocols and strategies to keep us safe and GET IDAHO BACK TO WORK.

Tommy Ahlquist, a former emergency room doctor, is the CEO BVA Development and co-owner of Saltzer Health.

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