(Originally released March 19, 2020)
I’ve been talking to many Idahoans about the 2019 novel coronavirus. Everyone has an opinion, and most people are doing their best to stay healthy and prevent others from getting sick.
The situation with coronavirus is changing hourly, and history will remember our reaction to it. I want history to remember that Idahoans were there for each other during this very challenging and uncertain time.
Let’s be mindful of our neighbors and thoughtful of our actions. If your neighbor is in the vulnerable population – the elderly or health-compromised – ask them how you can help. If you know a healthcare or public safety worker who needs childcare or help taking care of things at home, reach out to them. We absolutely need to maintain a strong healthcare and public safety workforce right now.
Individuals should not hoard groceries and household products. America’s supply chain is the strongest in the world. Grocery stores will stay open and will be continually restocked. Shop for your needs and no more. You are potentially harming your neighbors when you take more than you need.
I applaud Idaho businesses, which are being as flexible as possible with their workers at this time. State and federal emergency funds are available to help businesses deal with unexpected losses. I want businesses to communicate their challenges to my office so we can work through it together.
Most people will not contract coronavirus, and the majority of those who do will experience mild symptoms. Our focus is two-fold: to prevent spread of coronavirus to the elderly and health-compromised – who can get seriously ill from coronavirus – and to preserve capacity in our healthcare facilities. If we don’t all do our part to control the spread of coronavirus to the vulnerable population, then our healthcare facilities will be overrun with too many patients in a short period of time. That’s precisely what we’re trying to avoid through all these preventative steps.
Idaho and public health officials have been preparing for coronavirus since January when the first case was confirmed in the United States. Our public health system and healthcare system is strong. It is not perfect, and every day we are improving access to coronavirus testing and getting closer to a vaccine. But we are far better off here than elsewhere in the world, and we need to be grateful for that.
My fellow Idahoans, let’s keep everything in perspective and take a deep breath. Keep doing your part – listen to our public health experts about what to do and, most of all, “love thy neighbor.”
History will remember how we dealt with coronavirus. Let’s make sure future generations use it as a model for calm and compassion in a time of uncertainty.