Idaho is moving into a modified Stage 2 and the National Guard will come in to help the state fight the pandemic.
Gov. Brad Little announced Idaho is reverting to the modified Stage 2 at his bi-weekly coronavirus update. Under the modified Stage 2, gatherings of more than 10 people will not be permitted, Little said. This does not apply to religious or political expression, according to Little. However, physical distancing is still required.
Bars, nightclubs and restaurants will still be allowed to operate, but customers must be seated and masks are required when moving around the restaurant.
Masks are still required at long-term care facilities.
“This is the biggest challenge facing healthcare right now – the availability of trained healthy nurses and doctors to care for all patients, not just COVID-19 patients. This impacts all of us, whether we have COVID-19 or not,” Governor Little said in a statement.
Although it is not mandated, Little encouraged all who can to work remotely.
Little reiterated the importance of mask wearing and encouraged all Idahoans, even those who are already under a mask mandate, to wear face coverings in both public and social settings to limit the spread of coronavirus.
As cases continue to skyrocket across the state, Little said traveling nurses are increasingly hard to find and hospitals have reported it is “only a matter of weeks” before hospitals will be forced to ration care and turn patients away.
In addition to reverting to the modified Stage 2, Little announced he has called on the National Guard to assist in the state’s fight against the pandemic. Around 100 guardsmen will come to Idaho, Little said.
The guardsmen will help “where they are needed,” which could include testing support, medical facility decontamination or COVID-19 screenings and more, according to Little.
As cases around the state and in schools continue to climb, Little stressed the importance of maintaining in-person learning. Little also said most children are being infected in the community, not the classroom.
“We put millions of dollars toward the safe operation of schools. Schools are controlled environments and they remain safe places to work and learn, when protocols are followed. School buildings are not the place where virus transmission is occurring,” Governor Little said in a statement. “School closures threaten the biggest capacity issue facing our healthcare system – the availability of healthy workers. If a healthy nurse or doctor must stay home to facilitate online learning for their children, then they can’t care for the sick and help get us through this crisis. Our kids need to remain in school for in-person instruction as much as possible.”
After months of remaining in Stage 4, Little moved Idaho into a modified Stage 3 of Idaho Rebounds on Oct. 27. Under the modified stage, indoor gatherings were limited to no more than 50 people and outdoor gatherings had a capacity of 25%.
In-person church services and businesses were allowed to remain open.