Monday, June 1, 2020
Idaho ‘Rebounds’ as Governor Relaxes Stay-at-Home Restrictions
Chris, Nora and Sebastian Roebuck cheered Thursday as teachers from Alturas Elementary School staged a Cinco de Mayo trip that wound through Bellevue and Hailey. But Chris Roebuck is doubly excited about returning to work today.
Friday, May 1, 2020


Idahoans will dip their toes into the somewhat frightening process of reopening today as the state begins relaxing its statewide stay-at-home order.

The Gem State makes the transition from a Stay-at-Home order to a Stay-Healthy Order as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb across the country.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced Thursday that the state had “exceeded our hurdles” to move into the first stage of reopening. But he warned a spike in COVID-19 cases could postpone the next stage of reopening or even send the state retreating to stricter restrictions.

The transition period, he added, is more about staying safe than staying home.

“Everyone must do their part to make sure we can progress to Stage Two by wearing face coverings in public places, washing their hands frequently and following the other guidelines for all stages,” he added.

Idahoans are also reminded to stay home if sick, wash hands, cover coughs and sneezes and disinfect surfaces and objects regularly.

Chris Roebuck is excited about reopening Christopher & Co. jewelry store in Hailey.

“I’m ready!” he said. “We’ll wear masks and have sanitizing. And we will limit the number of people who can be in the store at one time. But we’re happy and excited to be open.”

The loosening of restrictions follows an encouraging Epidemic (EPI) Curve this week that shows that there has been fewer than five new onsets of coronavirus in Blaine County a day since April 4. The peak occurred on March 13 with more than 40.

Beginning today most retail-type businesses will be allowed to reopen as long as they follow physical distancing and sanitation precautions. Daycares, churches and some youth activities will also be allowed to resume. But they will be required to exercise precautions.

Places of worship, for instance, are encouraged to have congregants wear face coverings and sit at least six feet apart. Worshipers should avoid hugging or handshaking. And they should avoid sharing  communion wine. Collection plates should be eschewed for mail-in or online donations.

At the direction of Idaho Bishop Brian Thom, Idaho Episcopalians will continue social isolation Sunday mornings until they join together May 31, the Day of Pentecost.

When they do gather together, St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sun Valley is adding a third service to allow safe distancing, asking parishioners to sign up in advance to space attendance out. They’re also reconfiguring pews while wiping them clean following services. Books will not be used; bulletins will contain the entire service. Masks will be required of all congregants.

The church is also planning an outdoor service in June.

Youth activities, such as day camps, are allowed as are youth sports, music, religious, scouting and other organized youth activities. Large events like tournaments, competitions and overnight camps are not allowed.

Carpooling should be limited to members of the same family, physical distancing should be practiced, outdoor activities are encouraged, spectators and physical contact are to be limited and youth should be prohibited from sharing cups or water bottles.

Day cares should try to stagger drop-off and pickup times to achieve physical distancing.

The state is still encouraging vulnerable Idahoans—those over 65 and those with health and other risk factors--to stay home as much as possible. Gatherings and non-essential travel are still not permitted, nor are gyms, nail and hair salons, massage parlors, movie theaters, concert venues, bars and dine-in areas of restaurants.

Travel continues to be restricted to essential purposes, such as visits to the supermarket, pharmacy or place of work. Those coming into Idaho from other states will be asked to quarantine for 14 days. And those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or believe they have the virus are prohibited from entering the state unless doing so for medical care.

Local orders restrict the operation of hotels and short-term rentals. But Ketchum’s tennis courts will open today.

The City of Hailey will hold a special meeting on Monday, May 4, to review plans developed by city administration for reopening parks and facilities. Council members will also begin discussing how to handle special events scheduled for mid to late summer after the fourth stage of Idaho Rebounds has been reached, which allows gatherings of more than 50 people.

State officials hope the state can move into a second stage of the Governor’s Idaho Rebounds plan by May 16. Idaho must see a downward trend of COVID-19 illnesses over each 14-day reporting period or an average of fewer than 20 doctor visits a day or fewer than 5 percent positive laboratory COVID-19 tests to go on to the next stage of the recovery plan. It must have a downward trend of hospitalizations or fewer than two new patients a day, as well.

In addition, hospital officials should feel they have a cushion of available ventilators, intensive care unit beds and personal protective equipment. And there must be an average of fewer than two health care workers per day diagnosed with COVID-19 during the 14-day reporting period.

The gradual reopening is being done in two-week increments because of the 14-day incubation period of COVID-19. Officials will be able to see what effect the latest measures have taken before deciding whether to transition to the next phase, stay put or revert to a previous stage.

The second stage allows restaurants and hair salons to reopen. The third stage beginning May 30 would allow gatherings of up to 50. Out-of-state residents could travel to Idaho without requiring a quarantine.

Bars and gyms would reopen and retirement facilities could reopen to visitors in the fourth stage, set for June 13. Groups of more than 50 people will also be allowed to gather—with distancing, and large venues will be able to reopen.

There were 21 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 announced by the state’s seven health districts on Wednesday and no new deaths.

Thirty-three of Idaho’s 44 counties have at least one confirmed case of coronavirus. The 11 that have not reported a case are Bear Lake, Benewah, Boise, Boundary, Butte, Clark, Clearwater, Franklin, Lewis, Oneida and Shoshone.

The governor issued his Stay-at-Home order on March 25. Blaine County was ordered locked down a week earlier.



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