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'People need to take it seriously': Idaho Sen. Risch explains how Congress is handling the coronavirus pandemic

The junior senator told KTVB that while Idaho hasn't been hit hard by the pandemic, people still need to take it seriously.

BOISE, Idaho — The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Idaho continues to climb. As of Tuesday night, there are nine total cases, up from one on Friday. In Washington, there are now over 1,000 cases as of Tuesday night. 

As the coronavirus spreads, Idaho Sen. Jim Risch said people in Idaho need to take it seriously and that Congress is quickly moving to pass aid and spending bills to battle the virus and its economic impact.

"This situation is serious, people need to take it seriously," Sen. Risch said. "In Idaho, we don't have as many cases as a lot of states do. Back here in D.C., restaurants are all closed down, businesses are all closed, streets are pretty vacant."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that everyone practice social distancing and avoid groups larger than ten people. Risch said that people need to heed those recommendations.

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"This needs to be taken seriously," he said, "And people should take the recommendations that are made seriously."

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which Idaho Rep. Russ Fulcher voted against. Risch said the Senate will pass that act and is currently work on "phase three" of the response to the coronavirus outbreak.

RELATED: Rep. Fulcher explains why he voted no on coronavirus aid bill that would provide free testing, expand sick pay

The next phase will focus on three major issues, Risch explained. The first focus, according to Risch, is helping small businesses affected by the outbreak. With restaurants, bars, and other businesses closing down, the bill could possibly help businesses keep paying their employees so fewer people get laid off. The next part is directly paying people directly that have been affected by the outbreak. Lastly is helping the airline industry from facing further harm.

For why testing kits have been slow to roll out, the senator explained that it takes some time for testing kits to be made for new diseases.

"This is a new disease, and you can't just reach out to the shelf and grab a testing kit," he said, "a testing kit has to be developed, has to be tested and then it has to be manufactured in great quantities and we've been at that since day one. Its rapidly catching up but these always take a little bit to get up and going."

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.

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