BOISE - Social distancing gathered steam on Tuesday afternoon.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Idaho held a statewide town hall discussion via conference call at noon on Tuesday to address the growing concern over the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The three panelists present to answer questions included Idaho Gov. Brad Little, Idaho State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn and Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen.

“I’ve been on phone calls with other governors multiple times a week,” stated Little. “We’ve been implementing plans at every level of government.”

The governor assured listeners that Idaho’s goal is to do everything possible to slow the spread of the virus.

“We’ve learned from Italy, from China, from the state of Washington,” explained Little.

He stated how important it is to get more health care workers into the system.

Jeppesen took a moment to thank the governor for forming a “coronavirus working group” to discuss all topics relating to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

Jeppesen said that it is important to slow down the spread of the virus, but to also be careful not to “overrun our health care resources.”

“Nothing is more important now than communication,” stated Haun, who expressed that the safety and health of all Idahoans is what everyone on the panel is thinking very hard about.

Governor Little assured all listeners that the state of Idaho is following the CDC’s guidance. He also said that he has deferred to local governments to make decisions for their communities.

“We are deferring to local governments as we’ve done all along,” said Little.

Love thy neighbor

Little, in referencing the declaration of emergency he declared for the state, said that part of the declaration included guidelines for prosecuting those individuals who engage in profiteering, saying those people would be arrested. He said this is particularly problematic with health care supplies.

“This goes under the category of ‘love thy neighbor’,” stated Little, “Also think of your neighbors when you go to the grocery store.”

Brand new virus

“As you are probably aware, testing has been very problematic,” said Hahn.

She went on to describe how Idaho does seem to be faring better than other states in its response to this public health crisis. Hahn also said that there are commercial laboratories that are now assisting in the processing of collected samples.

“This is a brand new virus. There’s not a lot of information about it. Most viruses are very fragile and don’t last in the environment,” explained Hahn.

She said that the best data currently available says that the virus can be viable for up to 72 hours on objects.

“Sunshine is a great disinfectant,” added Little.

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