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Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare announces Idaho will move to Stage 4 during biweekly meeting

IDHW director Dave Jeppesen announced the state will move into Stage 4 due to declining hospitalization rates. Under Stage 4, gatherings of any size can be held.

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare (IDHW) announced Idaho will move from the modified Stage 3 to Stage 4 of the Idaho Rebound plan during its biweekly meeting regarding COVID-19 in Idaho. 

Under Stage 4, Idahoans will be able to hold gatherings of any size, according to IDHW Director Dave Jeppesen. Additionally:

  • Idaho remains open with recommendations to protect lives, healthcare access, and the economy.
  • Vaccines are encouraged to help keep Idaho open.
  • Recommended guidance on how to gather safely is available and encouraged.
  • Face coverings are recommended when physical distancing is difficult per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Face coverings continue to be required for people who are visiting or working in a long-term care facility, to protect vulnerable residents.
  • Everyone, including businesses, should follow physical distancing and sanitation recommendations.

“Our overall numbers are very encouraging, and we are confident about our decision to move the state to Stage 4,” Jeppesen said in a statement. “We’re currently seeing some of the best numbers we have seen since last summer. We think the COVID-19 vaccine is one of the main reasons for that, and we want to encourage people who haven’t yet gotten the vaccine to consider choosing to get the vaccine to allow things to continue to improve.”

The seven-day average dropped below 10 last week, the lowest rate per 100,000 the state has seen in some time. For the fourth consecutive week, the statewide positivity rate stayed below 5%.

Hospitalizations continue to decline. ICU admission rates remained steady this week but Jeppesen said the rates are still higher than the state would like to see.

Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch; Dr. Christine Hahn, Public Health medical director and state epidemiologist; Dr. Kathryn Turner, deputy state epidemiologist, Sarah Leeds, manager of the Idaho Immunization Program; and Dr. Christopher Ball, chief of the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories, will be present during the meeting.

The meeting comes just one day after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized emergency use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for individuals age 12-15. Hahn said the CDC Advisory Committee will meet on Wednesday to make its recommendations for vaccine protocols, and she is hopeful vaccination for that age group can begin Thursday.

Vaccine trials among 12 to 15-year-olds showed high tolerance to the shot and a higher antibody response than those aged 16-17. Among the group of participants, no cases were identified in kids that received the vaccine and 18 were identified in the placebo group.

16 and 17-year-olds are currently eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, but vaccination rates for that age group are low in Idaho. According to Hahn, about 15% of Idahoans aged 16-17 are vaccinated.

The meeting will be live-streamed on KTVB.COM and the KTVB YouTube channel. 

To watch the meeting, click below:

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