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Idaho experiences largest 1-day jump in coronavirus cases. Little resists stricter measures

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Brad Little | EastIdahoNews.com file photo

Idaho health districts reported at least 27 new confirmed cases of coronavirus Monday, but Gov. Brad Little opted to remove restrictions on the health care system rather than impose more rules on residents.

Health districts have reported a total of 77 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. That includes 20 in Ada County, seven more than Sunday; five in Canyon, an increase of two; and 36 in Blaine, an increase of 15.

Little announced in a press conference Monday that the state will waive requirements for health care workers to allow former and retired caregivers to return to the field in an effort to boost the number of medical professionals around the state. Little said he went to state officials Friday in an effort to improve access to medical resources, as well as increasing the number of medical professionals in the state.

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“I asked them to place specific emphasis on increasing the health care provider capacity and reducing barriers to health care access,” Little said Monday.

Little said state officials found 125 rules to waive that would streamline the effort to increase the number of health care workers and expand health care options in Idaho. He added that the state will be expanding the use of out-of-state telecommunications in order to improve medical care.

When asked why he was not putting tighter restrictions in place statewide, like a ban on going into restaurants, Little said it’s because no two places in the state are alike.

“If we have an area where there’s a big risk, that’s the proper thing,” Little said.

Little said that the state is also concerned with the lack of testing statewide, which means there are likely more cases than have been reported.

The governor also announced that Medicare has suspended copay requirements in order to ease that financial burden. Little said that those with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, will be allowed to refill their medications to up to 90 days.

He added that the state will be extending the filing deadline for state taxes by 60 days, to June 15.

This article first appeared in the Idaho Statesman. It is used here with permission.

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