Governor Brad Little held a press conference this week at Nampa High School. He reviewed the facts concerning unvaccinated Idahoans getting sick.

The governor said hospitals are straining once again due to Covid outbreaks. He, like Senator Jim Risch this week, urged Idahoans to take the vaccine. His concern was that the state could not protect students' learning ability in their classrooms this school year without more vaccinations. He elaborated on the threat to in-school learning this year.

"Idaho students are headed back to their classrooms starting next week. As I've stated from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our students need to learn with their teachers and peers in their classrooms. Our main defense in ensuring the new school year is entirely in-person – free from outbreaks and quarantines – is the COVID-19 vaccine," Governor Little said.

Governor Little reviewed the current statistics involving Idaho and Covid.

·        98.9-percent of new COVID-19 cases since Jan. 1, 2021, were people not vaccinated 

·        98.6-percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations since Jan. 1, 2021, were people not vaccinated 

·        98.7-percent of COVID-19 deaths since Jan. 1, 2021, were people not vaccinated 

· Since May 15, there have been 10-times as many COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated people compared to vaccinated people 

· Since May 15, there have been 13-times as many COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated people compared to vaccinated people 

· Since May 15, there have been 8-times as many COVID-19 deaths among unvaccinated people compared to vaccinated people.

The vaccine slows the spread of the disease. Epidemiologists, with the State of Idaho, say that with low vaccination rates and the highly contagious Delta variant is still circulating in Idaho communities. Delta is twice as infectious as the original strain. State projections indicate case counts could continue to increase through the fall and exceed last year's peak for daily case counts in as soon as two months.

Idaho's population vaccination rate is one of the lowest in the country. Many national pundits have used the state's lack of compliance to criticize Idaho. Just over half of Idaho's adult population is vaccinated, with the most significant share of those vaccinated over 65.

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"I understand there are many who will not receive the vaccine under any circumstances, but there are also a lot of others who are on the fence about receiving the vaccine. To those friends and neighbors of ours waiting to receive the vaccine, the time to get the vaccine is now, when our students are going back to school. We can minimize or eliminate disruptions in the delivery of education as well as sports and extracurricular activities during this school year if more Idahoans choose to get vaccinated now. Our younger population cannot receive the vaccine and they need us – the adults – to make the right decision now so they can stay well and have a productive, successful school year," Governor Little said.

Parents of 12- to 17-year-olds are also encouraged to have their children vaccinated. A pediatrician can help answer questions, and parents are encouraged to make an appointment to discuss the vaccine.

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Idaho hospitals are once again filling up with COVID patients – almost all unvaccinated – and access to basic healthcare services is getting pinched for everyone. People with planned surgeries may have those surgeries delayed. People with heart attacks or strokes may find there is no bed available in their local hospital. 

 Governor Little also noted the impacts of increased spread on our workforce. 

"We cannot afford to have such a large share of our workforce out sick all at once. Our workforce cannot afford to stay home because schools and day cares shut down due to outbreaks. This threatens Idaho's phenomenal economic success," Governor Little said. "Our hospitals won't be able to take in the influx of patients. And, importantly, it is not fair to our students who will experience disruptions in their school year." 


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