Idaho will remain in Stage 4 of Gov. Brad Little’s economic rebound plan for at least two more weeks, Little announced Thursday.
The state first advanced to Stage 4 on June 13, nearly six weeks ago. The stage was initially planned to last two weeks, but has been extended three times since then as the number of COVID-19 cases in Idaho continues to rise. Idaho has seen a more than 400 percent increase in coronavirus cases since entering Stage 4, adding some 13,000 confirmed and probable infections to its tally in the past six weeks.
“We will continue to move forward with a local approach in our coronavirus mitigation response,” Little said in a press conference.
The announcement followed surges in cases in cities across the state including Twin Falls and Boise. Five hundred new confirmed and probable cases were reported Wednesday, bringing Idaho’s total number of cases since March to 16,322.
“The rise in confirmed cases in those areas is very concerning,” Little said. “But it is not the only metric in which we make decisions.”
Idaho has seen a “definite increase in emergency department visits for COVID-like illness, which is one of our show-stoppers as far as advancing,” State Epidemiologist Christine Hahn told reporters.
All businesses in Idaho, including large venues, were permitted to open under Stage 4, with social distancing and sanitation practices encouraged. Advancing out of the stage would mean lifting certain safety guidance for businesses and travelers.
In Blaine County, the number of new reported cases has remained relatively low compared to other parts of the state, with a total of 562 confirmed and probable cases since March as of Wednesday. Twelve confirmed patients were still being monitored.