BOISE, Idaho -- Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Wednesday issued a statewide stay-at-home order as the coronavirus continues to spread.
Little announced the order will remain in effect for 21 days.
Idaho has more than 91 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, spread throughout the state.
The stay-at-home order requires Idaho’s 1.75 million residents to self-isolate at home unless they are healthcare workers, public safety employees or other “essential workers” such as grocery store employees.
Little said some communities now had community spread, those areas being in central Idaho’s Blaine County and highly populated southwestern Idaho, which includes Boise. Community spread means it’s not clear where or from whom a person became infected.
“When you have community spread, you have to go the the next level, and that’s what were doing,” Little said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
The governor also issued a new “extreme emergency” declaration for the state, a step he said would allow him to take additional steps to expand the capacity of Idaho’s health care system.
“We are doing everything at the appropriate time,” Little said of the stay-at-home order. “We are all in this together.”
Washington state and Oregon have also issued statewide stay-at-home orders in recent days.
“Given where we are in the biology of this disease, it’s important to do now to get the message out to all of Idaho,” Little said. “We absolutely have to have this take place.”
People won’t be arrested for taking walks if they are five feet (1.5 meters) or more away from others, Little said. Essential businesses — including grocery stores and medical facilities, — will be allowed to remain open. Little said the language of the order will be made public soon.
“If your car breaks down and you can’t get to the grocery store, fixing that car is an essential service,” Little said.
Little said the state is actively trying to get medical gear, including personal protective equipment to protect healthcare workers from getting the virus. But he said the state is competing with other states and even nations that are now realizing the magnitude of the pandemic.
“We have one order that just got here and others on the way, trying to manage that as best we can for the whole state of Idaho,” he said. “This will continue to be a big emphasis.”
Little made the announcement at the Idaho Military Division headquarters shortly after a briefing with the joint staff of the Idaho National Guard.