Apr 30, 2020

Idaho Governor Brad Little Coronavirus Briefing Transcript April 30

Idaho Governor Brad Little Press Briefing
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsIdaho Governor Brad Little Coronavirus Briefing Transcript April 30

Idaho governor Brad Little held an April 30 press conference on COVID-19. Little discusses Phase 1 of reopening for Idaho.

 

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Brad Little: (00:01)
People want to feel safe returning to work and visiting businesses. They want to know everything possible is being done to ensure that they will not contract coronavirus when they leave their homes. Until we have vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-,19 safety and prevention should be our highest priority. Stage one is the first of four stages we outlined for the reopening of Idaho’s economy. Our stage one Stay Healthy Order replaces the statewide Stay Home Order that has been in place since March 25th. Everyone must do their part to ensure we can progress to stage two by wearing face coverings in public places or washing their hands frequently and following the other guidelines for all stages. During stage one, 90% of businesses will be able to open their doors. To ensure consumer and employee confidence, we have laid out protocols for businesses to ensure physical distancing, sanitation and other measures to follow in stage one. It is available at reboundidaho.gov. Places of worship, daycares, and organized youth activities and day camps can open if they adhere to Idaho and CDC protocols.

Brad Little: (01:34)
We will continue the 14 days self quarantine for people entering Idaho to prevent an influx of out of state visitors who could be carrying the virus into our state. Vulnerable Idahoans should continue to stay at home if they can. Employers are encouraged to continue teleworking and return employees to work in phases. Gatherings of any size, both public and private, should be avoided. Minimize non-essential travel. Dine-in restaurants must remain closed but pick up and delivery options will still be available and are encouraged. In the next two weeks, restaurant operators should develop plans open for dine-in during stage two. Indoor gyms, recreational facilities, and close contact services such as massage, hair, and nail salons remain closed but can make plans to reopen in stage two if they follow protocols. Visits to senior living facilities and facilities such as jails and prisons are prohibited.

Brad Little: (02:55)
Bars, nightclubs and large venues must remain closed at this time. I want to reiterate that we can only reopen our economy successfully if we can demonstrate a downward decline in severe cases and meet other criteria. It is imperative that individuals take personal responsibility by limiting their exposure to others and maintaining good hygiene. Meanwhile, we are focusing on expanding and targeting access to testing. We are improving contact tracing for all COVID-19 positive cases. We are working to ensure we have healthcare system capacity. I also want to share some important news about what we’re doing to help Idaho small businesses as we continue to reopen our economy. We will be making $300 million available to Idaho small businesses in new Idaho rebound grants. Cash grants of up to $10,000 will be available to small businesses. With this step, we will be able to support more than 30,000 of Idaho’s smallest businesses.

Brad Little: (04:16)
Many of these businesses are the backbone of their communities. No other state in the country is putting up a larger amount from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to help small businesses with cash support. Since this money is intended to help Idaho’s small businesses, the Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee will establish sideboards tomorrow to ensure the grants are carefully targeted. Businesses will be eligible if they have not already received an SBA backed payroll protection loan or received less than $10,000 in such a loan. Other eligibility criteria will be finalized by the committee and will be outlined at reboundidaho.gov next Tuesday at 9:00 a.m.

Brad Little: (05:07)
The State Tax Commission will facilitate the application process. Small businesses will need to create a taxpayer access point account and are encouraged to do so as soon as possible. Information on how to create these accounts is available@reboundidaho.gov. My Economic Rebound Advisory Committee recommended this step to ensure a path back to prosperity and restore the trajectory we had just 70 days ago. I understand the need for transparency around spending public money and that is why all recipients of Idaho Rebound Grants will be displayed at transparentidaho.gov. I sincerely appreciate the collaboration we have with State Controller Brandon Wolf in making this information publicly available. Brandon, you’re a champion of transparency in government.

Brad Little: (06:08)
My fellow Idahoans, I appreciate everything you’re doing individually and collectively to protect yourselves, your neighbors and your loved ones from coronavirus. Idaho was one of the last states in the country to have a positive test for coronavirus and no surprise to me, due to your diligent actions, we are one of the first states to reopen. Thank you for supporting your neighbors as we get through this challenge together and thank you for committing to continue our efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus so that we can rebound rapidly. With that, I’ll take your questions. Okay. How do I know there a-

Speaker 1: (07:01)
I was looking at the newly released testing data that was released on [inaudible 00:07:07] and I noticed that District Two had some our lowest number of tests that were conducted, even though that contains [inaudible 00:07:15], which currently has the highest test rate in Idaho, so I wanted to ask if you’re confident that there no room it could spread [inaudible 00:07:25] and that enough testing has been done to really understand the outbreak in that community?

Brad Little: (07:32)
You wanted me to restate the question. The question was District Two, for those of you that don’t have the health districts memorize, that’s the Lewiston area the number of tests there and if we had community spread. We have community spread and I’ll let a Director Jeppesen who maybe got the rest of the long question better embedded in his mind than I did, but we do have community spread in District Two. So, Director Jeppessen.

Dave Jeppesen: (08:05)
Thank you, Governor. I’ll address that as well. We have seen an increase in testing lab capacity over the last week and a half with labs coming online here in the state. We did commission a testing task force as of last week and one of their primary goals is to make sure that, that testing capacity is available in all corners of the state, including District Two as well as high priority locations such as correctional facilities, longterm care facilities, healthcare workers. And so with the labs being here in state now having much more capacity, it’s just a matter of getting those testing kits out and we feel confident that we can do that.

Brad Little: (08:40)
Thanks, Dave.

Speaker 2: (08:46)
I also have a question related to testing.

Brad Little: (08:51)
Okay.

Speaker 2: (08:52)
I wonder what the Governor’s office is hearing from hospitals and clinics, healthcare providers across the state, in terms of the demand that they’re seeing for testing and what sort of means they have as far as tests go?

Brad Little: (09:07)
Well, the question is about a need for testing in our hospital facilities and I think it’s similar to the last question, but I’ll let Dave go ahead and answer it.

Dave Jeppesen: (09:16)
Yeah, so we actually are in pretty close contact with those that are administering tests around the state and we actually have seen a slight decline in the Treasure Valley in particular in the number of people requesting tests as of late. But we also know we have areas of the state as per the previous question that have unmet need or demand or have had unmet need or demand for testing in their areas. And so the other thing that the testing task force will be working on is expanding the criteria of who should be tested. To date that’s been very tight to high priority individuals, individuals in the hospital, healthcare workers, those very symptomatic. As this capacity comes on line, not only will we look to expand testing capability throughout the state, but we’ll look to expand the criteria of who should be tested. And so we expect that demand to go up. We expect to see more tests happen over the next couple of weeks.

Speaker 3: (10:12)
I have a question, Governor Scott, [inaudible 00:10:14] with Channel Two, about unemployment. You mentioned the trajectory the state was on just 70 days ago. The wheels have come off the cart fairly quickly it seems. [inaudible 00:10:25] are just heartbroken trying to get any information from the Department of Labor. How overwhelmed is the state and what can you do about it?

Brad Little: (10:35)
Well, the question is about unemployment and the enormous changes. I think I stated last time we were about to announce record high employment, record low unemployment, and with in a matter of a couple of weeks, now we’ve got over 110,000 people that are in the system. So you can imagine the fact that you’re basically going from 0 to 100 miles an hour in that area. I believe a lot of the unemployment has caught up at this point in time. A lot of what the concerns are we hear are the fact that there’s these new federal programs that there wasn’t guidance from the federal government, there was not the software in there. So simultaneous with all the work they were doing on unemployment there was these other new programs that were put in place, and we can get back to you about that specific, but I think we’re getting caught up on the unemployment. So next question.

Speaker 3: (11:43)
What would you say to those people who say that they’ve tried week after week after week and they haven’t been able to get any information on her status?

Brad Little: (11:52)
That’s probably on the new programs, not on the old programs. I don’t think there’s that long of a wait. The additional $600 a week that goes out, we got that out, the unemployment issue. But I think what you’re hearing is a lot of the people that are talking about the Paycheck Protection, which is a new program, and that’s an issue just getting ramped up. And, of course, also hearing back from the Small Business Administration. But we’ll put out details today.

Speaker 3: (12:26)
I’ve talked to some people who applied several weeks ago and they haven’t heard anything from the Department of Labor. They’ve been on hold for an hour on the phone, et cetera.

Brad Little: (12:39)
If it’s traditional unemployment, I don’t believe that’s the case. You might have an individual, but I think for the most part, traditional unemployment, they’re now getting those dollars out there. It shouldn’t be … Somebody is interrupting, go ahead.

Betsy Russell: (13:08)
Governor, Betsy Russell with the Idaho Press. I have a question. Are you issuing a new order today to replace the statewide order that is expiring today, or is your new four phase plan all just advisory?

Brad Little: (13:23)
The question is, am I issuing a new order? And the answer is yes.

Betsy Russell: (13:27)
Governor, is the new order enforceable?

Brad Little: (13:36)
Yes. The question was, is the new order enforceable? And the answer is yes.

Betsy Russell: (13:38)
What is its time period? Is it just for the two weeks of stage one or does it extend on?

Brad Little: (13:46)
I signed it this morning. I believe it’s for two weeks, but it’ll be out there. It’ll be available.

Betsy Russell: (13:56)
Thank you.

Don: (13:59)
[inaudible 00:13:59] decided he was going to essentially adopt the same restrictions as the state and the same stages. He said that he wasn’t going to adopt the timeline on the states laid out partly because he thinks that that sets a problematic [inaudible 00:14:19] in people’s minds. Do you think the state is going to move through these stages on those target dates? Do we move backwards in stages if the conditions worsen?

Brad Little: (14:29)
Well, the question, Don’s question, was about that I think Boise was going to adopt our plan, the plan that we laid out. That’s great. The issue is could we go backwards? The criteria we put out is if… The issue is to open up the economy as fast as possible, maintain consumer confidence and maintain our health care capacity If heaven forbid, we had a big spike in cases, yeah, the possibility could be that we could move backwards. The whole plan is to get this done on the schedule that we have, and that’s why we have it metered out over time to increase the exposure of people that will be exposed to each other and not have us overrun our healthcare capacity, particularly in those critical areas like senior living centers.

Don: (15:29)
Governor, are you concerned that the businesses are banking on these time lines that they may shift?

Brad Little: (15:36)
I guess the question, am I concerned about businesses banking on the timelines? I believe every state has done a similar action. We published ours as early as possible so that the businesses would have the certainty about hiring their employees, buying supplies, being prepared, putting in their safety protocols. But the whole issue is if things go awry, and we don’t think they will, particularly if we can continue with the incredible compliance we’ve had, we’ll maintain that schedule.

Speaker 4: (16:12)
Governor Little, [inaudible 00:16:12] for Channel 6 here. Just to be clear, if they were to make it to say, stage two or stage three, and we have a spike, is this going to throw us back to stage zero essentially and we have to start work from the ground up? Or would we just start with phase over, the stage over?

Brad Little: (16:30)
It’s all relative to the magnitude of the spike. We’ll have the flexibility to either accelerate how far we go back to make sure we have distancing to make sure we don’t have a big spike in spread, but it will be metered to the relativity of the standards. This is the guidance that CDC put out and this is what our healthcare epidemiological team and healthcare providers have put together, so it’s an Idaho based Idaho centric model.

Speaker 5: (17:22)
Director Jefferson, this is [inaudible 00:17:19]. You said a couple of weeks ago in an interview, the long term care facilities in Nez Perce County is the one raising the case number and the death rate, do you care to shed some light on with facility we’re talking about for loved ones that work in a facility and the community?

Brad Little: (17:37)
Let me generally address that and then let Director Jefferson to finish up. Patient and personal information of people is highly valued in the state of Idaho, but we also want to make sure that people are safe. Some of these facilities, family members have talked about it, some reporting has looked at it and we are looking at what we’re going to do forward about what our policy is. Our goal is not to have any cases in any of these facilities, but they’re one of our most important and critical parts of this whole issue. Director Jefferson has got a strike force that is looking exactly at these is how we can keep them safe, how we can give them resources and how we can make sure we don’t have the spread. But I think the question is specific is about the one in Nez Perce County, Dave.

Dave Jefferson: (18:41)
Thank you, Governor, and thank you for the question. As the Governor mentioned, our policy is to not release addresses of where people live that have the virus that includes specific facilities. I’m not able to share a specific facility. I can tell you though that one of the things all those facilities do, both because it’s coming out of our strike team as well as CDC guidance, is that if any member of a facility is diagnosed positive with the COVID virus, the family members are notified. So there’s no information withheld from the family members as to what the situation is both within that facility and for their specific loved one. That has been done every single time across the state if there’s been a positive case.

Dave Jefferson: (19:23)
In addition, we monitor pretty closely all 82 facilities that we have around the state. We’ve had 18 of them that have had either staff or patients that have tested positive at some point. We currently have about 12 of those facilities that have an active case going on in one form or another and we do know that about 176 either staff or patients have tested positive so far with about 29 of the deaths that have taken place across the state coming from those that are residents of longterm care facilities. Which is why it is remains an incredible focus of ours to make sure we as a state in those facilities, they’re very committed to doing everything possible to both prevent the spread and protect those that have become infected.

Speaker 4: (20:06)
Following up with that, we know that [inaudible 00:20:09] have been more transparent reporting deaths and cases in the longterm care facilities. Seeing that 50% of those [inaudible 00:20:21] places that are reporting her cases, why are you not being more transparent? Because the only deaths that we know in Nez Perce County are 70 and up.

Brad Little: (20:32)
Well, I’ll give you the general answer is that individual protection and privacy is a high priority in Idaho. As the director just alluded to, the family members are made aware of it at the very outset. But my belief is that most people of Idaho don’t like their personal information being shared. We want to make sure we do the right thing from a healthcare capacity, but it’s always that balance between protection of one’s privacy and the transparency that you’re alluding to. On a broad range from the magnitude of the spread, from the magnitude of the risk to the community, all that data is being reported.

Speaker 6: (21:31)
[inaudible 00:21:31] just recently Oregon had published some recent numbers on the deaths involved there. They said that most of them were preexisting conditions when it came to their deaths. Has Idaho seen similar numbers in terms of deaths and preexisting conditions in terms of their health?

Brad Little: (21:51)
Generally, yes, but I’ll let the director talk about the specificity of the reporting that he sees.

Dave Jefferson: (21:58)
The question was do we see in the deaths that had been reported in Idaho a trend where many of those individuals had preexisting or underlying health conditions? I don’t have that number top of mind, but I will say that the vast majority of the unfortunate individuals who have perished as a result of this virus did have some type of underlying or health compromised condition. Not all, but the vast majority were in that category.

James Dawson: (22:27)
James Dawson with Boise State Public Radio. The reopen Idaho plan says we have to add a testing strategy and contact tracing strategy developed. The Department of Health and Welfare said those plans were in various stages of completion and probably won’t be published by tomorrow. Do you feel confident that Idaho is ready to move to stage one without either of those in place?

Brad Little: (22:49)
Yes.

James Dawson: (22:52)
Why is that?

Brad Little: (22:54)
The numbers that we have. Healthcare capacity is… My favorite graph here is about that red line as far as the health care capacity. We have adequate capacity. There are various stages of contact tracing because for the most part it’s done by the health districts which have… In some health districts, they have a huge workload going on and as we move through the plan, the health districts are going to have more work to do in a lot of other areas. We’re putting more resources into the health districts, but I’m confident that we’ve exceeded our hurdles for stage one.

James Dawson: (23:36)
As of right now though, the central health district is planning on hiring more employees to help with contact tracing, but none of the other ones that we’ve spoken with are planning to hire more contact traces at this time. I guess what is the state’s strategy for making sure that we have enough of them to adequately, I guess, for people who might have come into contact with someone who has contracted the coronavirus?

Brad Little: (24:04)
Well, we’re putting significant resources into it. I’ll let Dave talk about the details.

Dave Jefferson: (24:12)
Great. The question was additional resources for contact tracing at the public health district level. It’s a great question. It’s a conversation that we’re having across all the health districts of how to scale up and increase that amount of contact tracing. Just in case people don’t know what contact tracing is, the public health activity when somebody who’s tested positive, we interview them. We find out who they’ve been in contact with. We then interview those people that they’d been in contact with to assess how much exposure they may have had and whether they need to self isolate. We’ll actually move to the second tier of that, of those that they may have interacted with, depending on the conditions. That’s very labor intensive work.

Dave Jefferson: (24:47)
To date, we’ve actually been generally keeping up with the capacity that we have in the system and we actually have in the working group, one of our focuses is on contact tracing and scaling up those activities. Coming out of the CARES Act money is money that’s being allocated to hire those folks. I’ll be actually talking at the working group today on their plan of how we do that across the state. Some of the health districts are slightly ahead of others as they’re in various phases and they are independent entities, but we will be moving across the state to increase our capacity both with people and with technology.

Dave Jefferson: (25:23)
I will just say too the very best tool we have in our toolbox, while testing and contact tracing are great tools, the best tool we have in our toolbox is the people of Idaho. This is a very contagious disease. You can get it and not show symptoms for several days, two to five days. The very best thing that can happen is the people of Idaho to continue to practice physical distancing, good hand hygiene, those sorts of things. That is by far and away the best tool we have to make sure that the Governor’s plan can continue to open.

Betsy Russell: (25:52)
Director Jefferson, a question for you. Our state website reported 32 new cases yesterday and 35 new cases the day before, but it doesn’t specify where those-

Betsy Russell: (26:03)
… cases were. And there’s no way from the way the data is presented to tell in which counties these new cases are cropping up each day unless you’re tracking the numbers in every county and writing them down and comparing that day-to-day. Any chance that the state website could begin displaying where the new cases each day are occurring by county?

Dave Jeppesen: (26:23)
Betsy, yes. The question was, the ability to see the new cases reported at a county level as a new case information. Our goal has always been and remains to share the data in the best way possible and as much data as we can. We didn’t have this dashboard 30 days ago, and so it continues to evolve. And our commitment is to make it better and better and better. And so it’s suggestions like that, Betsy, that we’ll take back and work in to make sure we can deliver on that. You are correct. Today you have to monitor each day to see that. And I’ll take that back to the team. Among many things that we’re looking to do to continue to make the data better and display more, we’ll add that to the list.

Dave Jeppesen: (26:59)
And then, I would just ask your patience as we do that. We end up changing it fairly regularly as new data comes out. And we’ll continue to do that, but we’ll continue to describe why and what that data is. And we’ll take that suggestion back, so thank you, Betsy.

Betsy Russell: (27:14)
Thank you.

Speaker 11: (27:14)
I’ve got a question-

Melissa: (27:17)
Senator, along those lines so far everything had been released by county, and I ask, there’s a huge amount of variability within counties when it comes to socioeconomic status and income. Would it be possible to get even more specific data by zip code, which some states are doing, which might enable tracking even more [inaudible 00:27:36]?

Dave Jeppesen: (27:38)
Well Melissa, thank you. The question was, could we get the data of cases reported at a more granular level than county level, which is where we report today. That is something that we are looking at. The trade off for us is we don’t want to get so granular that we identify specific people in specific zip codes, and so the trade off is the privacy, HIPAA protection versus the information to be displayed. As we have more cases in the more areas, that’s something that we continue to look at. And our goal will be to share as much data at the most granular level possible as we can.

Brad Little: (28:10)
KTVB has submitted a question about our concern about a fall surge, a fall increase. And we’re very concerned about it. But our staged plan is to continue to identify, continue to test, continue to trace. But every day there’s new science coming out about this COVID-19, how it acts, how it acts in the summer. It’s our intention, and I believe all the school districts intention, to have everybody back in school this fall. That’s a very big goal, along with the economy rebounding in totality. So we are aware of it. We probably will recommendations in best practices, but what we do know in the fall is in the fall we always have our traditional flu, and that traditional flu takes up capacity in our healthcare. So the overlap of the COVID-19 and our traditional flu means that we will continue to work to try and raise our line for hospital capacity so we have it when the fall arrives.

Speaker 8: (29:25)
[inaudible 00:29:25] again. How fast do you expect to turn around these small business grants to small businesses and is the tech commission prepared for an influx of applications?

Brad Little: (29:38)
May 5th. May 11th. The question is about how fast we turn around these grants, and we’ll be releasing more detail on it is May 11th.

Speaker 9: (29:53)
[inaudible 00:29:53] We’re hearing a lot of Oregon and Washington about rising infection rates in agricultural workers. Across the country there have been a lot of [inaudible 00:30:03] at meat packing plants. Are you directing health districts to track outbreaks at [inaudible 00:30:09] agricultural sector? Or increase target testing there, especially since a lot of these migratory workers in Oregon and Washington will often end up in Idaho?

Brad Little: (30:20)
Well, the question is about agriculture workers, whether they be in a processing facility or whether they be in the field. We have a lot of conversations with them, and believe it, believe me. It’s in their best interest to do the best practices. Nobody wants to either have to stop their production capacity or stop their harvest because of the COVID-19. So a lot of the input that either us or the health districts have had with them, generally they’ve been ahead of us.

Brad Little: (30:54)
One of the things that we’re talking about doing is aggregating our purchasing power to buy PPE. Some of the smaller operators don’t have enough personal protection equipment and are having to compete. So one of the recommendations we got was that the state, that we take some of this CARES money that we have, go out and buy a big volume of personal protective equipment and make that available. And that should help a lot in the agricultural sector.

Speaker 10: (31:30)
Can you go over plans to add more claims specialists to the Idaho Department of Labor?

Brad Little: (31:35)
Well, the question is about more claims specialists in the Department of Labor. They are hiring right now. And one of the things I did with my fellow members of the board of examiners was approve a lot of overtime in the last segment. But when they hire them, you got to remember they got to train them, particularly given some of the specificity. So they are hiring, paying overtime and training all at the same time.

Greta Walkman: (32:12)
Hi, Governor, this is Greta Walkman with the Mountain Express. If a business reopens and an employee chooses not to go back to work right away because they don’t feel safe doing so, will that employee be able to keep receiving unemployment insurance benefits?

Brad Little: (32:26)
That’s a broad question for a very labor specific issue. And I’ll just be straight with you, I don’t know.

James Dawson: (32:42)
James Dawson at Boise State Public Radio, again. You talked a lot about peer pressure being kind of a main enforcement mechanism for these orders. But many have local mayors, I’m thinking Nampa specifically, are basically sidestepping this by saying they’re not going to do anything if a bar reopens in phase one. How can you expect to advance past phase one without this type of cooperation from local officials kind of holding their own constituents to the fire?

Brad Little: (33:09)
Well, James’ question is about the problem that arises if a municipality, and he talked about Nampa, doesn’t do any enforcement. That’s not in anybody’s best interest. And I’m not sure that the way you characterize it is a way it is. That position by Nampa has some nuances in it about what that enforcement is. And I’ve had conversations with some of those, well, I had a conversation with all the mayors yesterday, and some specific. We need the help of the local entities as we go about this.

Brad Little: (33:54)
But I will go back to what you started your question with, James, and that’s this is the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do for your community. It’s the right thing to do for your customers. It’s the right, if every business in the state is closed, and only one opens, it’s not fair to the rest of those businesses. I think there is a lot of pressure that will come to bear on somebody that does that or on a community that does that if they look at the consequences. The question earlier about what happens if those hurdles we have to stay safe, to keep this line down, if we go up above those, and I just don’t think it’s in their best interest. So we’re working on that. And I’m hopeful that that will not be a problem.

Ariana Lake: (34:42)
Ariana Lake with 4 News Now. We are on the border with Washington in north Idaho. Are you worried about people crossing over because things are still closed here in Washington?

Brad Little: (35:04)
The question is from Ariana is about the problem we have with border communities, with people crossing over. I had a conversation with Governor Inslee this week, and one of the issues, and you’re very well aware of it, at that end of the state is the fact that Washington has their waterways and their golf courses and their car dealerships closed. So there’s been a lot of people coming from Washington across. The governor’s going to open up the golf courses and the waterways, and that will help, particularly as the weather gets… And I think campgrounds, I think, don’t hold me to that, but I know the golf courses and the waterways, and that will help kind of alleviate that problem that.

Brad Little: (35:52)
But Coeur d’Alene is one thing, but a small community in Idaho with maybe only one grocery store with limited public safety. If they have a barrage of people coming from, whether it be a town in Idaho or for somebody particularly out of state where they have community spread, it is a big problem. And I hear a lot about that so we’re trying to do all we can to keep that from happening.

Brad Little: (36:19)
When I was up there, I talked to the sheriff, the public safety people in Coeur d’Alene, they’re aware of it. They actually said when they went out and put warning messages on cars, the amount of those people coming over from the Spokane area went down. So I’m hopeful that that problem won’t be as great as it could be.

Betsy Russell: (36:42)
Governor, Idaho was the only state with a state health insurance exchange that hasn’t opened a special enrollment, an open enrollment period during the pandemic. And you have said that people who’ve lost their employer spots for coverage are eligible to purchase insurance on the exchange, and they are. But recent estimates suggest that there are more than 4,000 people in Idaho who have employer sponsored health insurance coverage and who now during the pandemic are interested in purchasing insurance through the state health exchange and are eligible, but we haven’t opened an enrollment period. Are you still considering opening one?

Brad Little: (37:21)
Betsy, I’m glad you asked that question because we get quite a few comments on that. Under the way Your Health Idaho works, if you have a change of employment status, you’re eligible to go sign up. So a lot of what we hear here in this office is the fact that we don’t have an open enrollment. All those people you just alluded to can enroll today. All they have to do is apply. They’ve had a change of status, they qualify. And I’ll let Director Jeppesen pick up anything I think I missed in that. But I’m glad you asked that question because we get a lot of questions about it.

Dave Jeppesen: (38:01)
Thank you, Governor and Betsy. The only thing I would add to that is for those that have lost their income completely, they are likely to qualify for Medicaid under Medicaid expansion. And if they apply on the exchange, that will be determined automatically whether they’re Medicaid eligible or for coverage through the exchange or through Your Health Idaho. And then Idaho just recently put into place enhanced short term plans, which are available at all times throughout the year as well.

Betsy Russell: (38:28)
Director, well, what about those who still don’t have insurance and don’t fall into those categories, but could purchase insurance through our exchange if we opened an open enrollment period? Why not do that as the other states with state insurance exchanges have at the time?

Dave Jeppesen: (38:45)
Yeah. I think that the difference in Idaho is we do have these enhanced short term plans that are available year round. They’re priced very competitively. And those individuals that might be in a category that you’ve referenced have that opportunity to purchase some coverage. So that would be, I mean, that is an option in the marketplace today.

Brad Little: (39:00)
But if they lost their job, they can buy a short term plan. They can get on the exchange without having an enrollment, and, likely, they have no income, would be available for Medicaid.

Melissa: (39:26)
[inaudible 00:39:26] and Governor, I was reading the guidelines for daycare reopening and I noticed that the language used, at least in the document that I saw, was there’s a lot of encouragement. We encourage staff to wear face masks, we encourage hand washing [inaudible 00:00:43], but I didn’t see anything about enforcement. Without enforcement, is there really any way of stopping kids from becoming [inaudible 00:39:52] community?

Brad Little: (39:53)
Well, and I’ll let Dave talk about it, the question is about one of the things we’re opening up is daycare, which is very, very important to the state. It’s critical, particularly for healthcare workers. The public safety, the health care workers, but for that matter, everyone in Idaho. Some areas, the City of Boise has their own daycare criteria right now. But I’m sure Dave has read the guidance that we just issued more recently than I did, so I’ll let him answer about the specificity.

Dave Jeppesen: (40:31)
Thank you. Governor, thank you Melissa for the question. We have just released on the Rebound, idaho.gov Rebound, that idaho.gov website, the guidance that you referenced for daycare facilities and that is guidance as you mentioned. However, in the conversations we’ve had with the daycare providers, they’re not in that business unless they care about kids and they’ve really been focused on how they keep people safe and they have a business model problem. If their parents don’t feel like their children are going to be safe in that facility, they’re not going to bring their kids.

Dave Jeppesen: (41:01)
And so rather than put that into a heavy hand of government enforcement action, we felt like we would put out what the guidance is and let the free market work of parents and their concern for their kids. And frankly, the folks that run daycare centers are very highly motivated to be compliant. As the Governor mentioned, many local municipalities do enforcement as well and I suspect they’ll be adding this to their list. So thank you.

Melissa: (41:22)
Along the same lines, you mentioned free market [inaudible 00:41:31]. I’m hearing a lot of frustration from small business owners, people who patronize small businesses that businesses like Target and Walmart are deemed essential and there’s no physical distancing that’s possible at those stores. Meanwhile, some of these small businesses that simply are not essential in your words are forced to shut down. If you could do that over again, would you have changed anything about either the language, or [inaudible 00:42:00] in the first place?

Brad Little: (42:02)
Well, I’m glad you asked the question about nonessential, that was nomenclature we got from the federal government that I was never a fan of because I think they’re, obviously grocery stores are essential. But what I see is a significant competition. Now it’s a little harder in a small community where you only have one store, but if you’ve got a community with one store, I’m a firm believer that whoever the person is that owns that has a very deep love of their community and they’re going to do all they can to keep them safe.

Brad Little: (42:41)
In the bigger markets, the competition, and I know we’re going to see this over time, hopefully somebody’s going to have a miracle vaccine or a treatment. But over time I believe that the entities that are doing the hard work, that are sanitizing the carts, that are having one way aisles, that are putting sneeze guards up, that are suggesting a face mask, that those are going to be more successful. That’s a free market solution that has got this country to where it is today and I think it’s going to be a lot of our pathway out of the problems we’ve had in the past.

Speaker 12: (43:23)
[crosstalk 00:43:23] As far as stats are concerned, do we expect to see a rise in deaths and cases as we go through the process or do we expect the numbers to go down? From KTVB.

Brad Little: (43:32)
Well, the question from KTVB was about our fatality rate, our mortality rate? Do we expect it to go higher? I hope not and I’ll let Director Jeppesen talk about it. But our model and the criteria we have is for that to not be there. And we talked about these assisted living centers. We absolutely have to continue to work there, because that’s where we’re most susceptible to spike in fatalities. So Dave, do you want to talk about the fatality rate?

Dave Jeppesen: (44:08)
Well certainly our hope and our prayer frankly, is that the fatality rate ends there. Certainly this does not go up much more from here. And that’s what we work for every day, is to try to prevent that, to save lives, frankly, that we can help people that don’t succumb to this terrible disease. And so we focus on that and we’ve talked about many of the tools already in this press conference. But the thing that I’ll just say is the best thing we can do to help that is for all of us to take the precautions we need to take to protect ourselves and our families and our loved ones. Because this virus is very contagious and it happens to give us a few days before we have symptoms. Really important if you’re going to be around anybody that’s susceptible, elderly or health compromised, that they take precautions and you take precautions. Because if we don’t, we will see that virus spread to that vulnerable population and we will see more deaths. And so it really, we’re really calling for all the good people of Idaho to help us here to make sure we don’t see, as minimal and hopefully no more deaths as we move forward.

Brad Little: (45:08)
One more question.

Speaker 13: (45:20)
[inaudible 00:45:20] Associated Press. There’s a lot of metrics [inaudible 00:45:26] virus. What is your primary concern that could cause your plan to fail and you have to go backwards? What’s the one thing that worries you most?

Brad Little: (45:36)
Well Keith, the question from the Associated Press is about what keeps Dave and I up at night? Where’s our biggest risk? We know that the big run we had in Idaho started before there was public awareness in the Ketchum area, and there were some big events without social distancing, without the kind of hygiene we need, and that caused a big run.

Brad Little: (46:02)
Big events particularly, and that’s why it’s the last thing in stage four is those larger events is where you have the most risk, and we have a lot of communities, we just had, I think we added two this week that I know of, Owyhee County and Lemhi County that we’ve got community spread. You have a big event there and people don’t do the right thing, that’s what keeps me up at night. Particularly in one of those areas. There’s a pretty good hospital in Salmon, but some of these areas they have hardly any hospital capacity, and a big event and a big run in an area where we don’t have adequate testing, that’s what I worry about. And if Dave’s got any add ons.

Dave Jeppesen: (46:52)
Thanks Governor. I’m not sure I can add much to that. I will just say that in addition to what the Governor said of some type of community spread happening in a way that’s very rapid and detrimental to the health and the economy of the state. The other thing, and the Governor talks about it often, is making sure we preserve our health care capacity. Being overrun on your healthcare capacity is not a good place to be. We’ve seen that help in another parts of the world and even in here in the US and that’s something that stays on my mind often, in addition to making sure we don’t have spread that that harms our community and damages the economy.

Speaker 14: (47:30)
Governor, Director, do you think we’re going to have large events this fall?

Brad Little: (47:34)
We hope so. We hope so. But as the science changes, and this is the last question, the question’s about large events. As the science changes, one of the things that we’ve been watching a lot is UV light. So I think outdoor events, the spacing is not going to be as critical, particularly if we’re doing contact tracing, we’re doing testing. I think those large events, particularly outdoors, are going to be the ones that I think the science will say have lower risks than a big inside event where they can’t do the spacing. So I’m very hopeful that we can have some of those events, and I’m also hopeful that we can have press conferences where I can see your smiling faces instead of your little bitty pictures on that screen. So thank you very much.

Speaker 15: (48:46)
Boise State University’s School of Public Service, Idaho Cable Broadband Association, Associated Taxpayers of Idaho, Association of Idaho Cities, University of Idaho’s McClure Center for Public Policy Research with additional support from the Idaho Public Television Endowment.