OPINION: President’s plan to responsibly reopen the economy in phases is underway in Idaho

Friday April 17, 2020

By Governor Brad Little

President Donald Trump laid out new guidelines last night that align with Idaho’s approach to responsibly reopen our economy in stages.

Like all our previous actions where we followed CDC and Presidential guidance, the new plan is in lockstep with the approach we have been pursuing in Idaho.

On Wednesday, I announced initial steps toward safely reopening Idaho’s economy in phases based on Idaho-specific data. Our goal is to avoid a spike in severe cases, which will set back our economic recovery.

My amended order, which is in place until April 30, allows any business, facility or service to open for curbside and delivery service. Further, businesses can now prepare to open their doors after April 30 as long as they make preparations to meet certain criteria for social distancing, sanitation, and others. For now, this excludes certain businesses where people simply cannot safely social distance.

Our approach allows us to further assess the trajectory of cases in Idaho and continue to strengthen our healthcare and testing capacity – just as the President’s guidelines recommend.

I’ve heard from neighbors, parents of school children, and small business owners. I share their concerns and frustration. It breaks my heart to see years and sometimes generations of hard work be plundered by the pandemic. No one wants to get our economy back up and running as much as I do, but we simply cannot open everything all at once and reverse the good work we have done collectively over the past month to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Today, there is no vaccine. There is no therapeutic to relieve symptoms, and we are far from achieving herd immunity to the virus.

But the President’s guidelines confirm Idaho is focused on the right areas for improvement, including expansion of testing access and contact tracing, increased healthcare system capacity, protecting the health of critical workers and vulnerable citizens, and reinforcing personal actions to prevent spread.

Our shared efforts to “flatten the curve” are working, but we have not yet seen a prolonged downward trend of severe cases – as recommended by the President – to justify opening up everything at once.

Until we do, we must continue to stay the course and proceed in an objective, organized manner toward opening the economy.

We all must ramp up our actions to slow the spread of coronavirus so that we can minimize the potential for future waves of infections and ensure a strong economic comeback as quickly as possible.

As advised by the President, we are taking this a few weeks at a time. Before the end of the month, I will lay out our next steps for the May.

I have spent the past couple of weeks with business leaders across the state, and next week I will announce the formation of an economic recovery group made up of private sector folks who will help guide us.

Just like Idaho rebounded from the last recession, prudent action today will allow Idaho to catapult forward with broad economic prosperity. What we are doing now is difficult, but I have no doubt Idaho will be one of the leaders in recovering from coronavirus.

Thank you to the people of Idaho for doing an incredible job protecting your loved ones, your neighbors, and yourselves during this unprecedented time.

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