Idaho lawmakers approve $2 million transfer to emergency fund for coronavirus


Gov. Brad Little speaks to Idaho media during a breakfast press conference in February 2020. The governor on Friday announced $2 million in emergency funds to prepare and respond to the novel coronavirus. Katherine Jones, Idaho Statesman

BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — The Idaho Legislature’s budget committee has approved $2 million in emergency funding to help Idaho prepare and respond to a potential outbreak from the novel coronavirus.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Friday approved Gov. Brad Little’s request to transfer the money to his emergency fund for COVID-19, the coronavirus disease that began spreading in 2019.

Idaho had no confirmed cases of the virus as of Friday morning. The state’s laboratory has tested 27 people.

“While the individual risk for coronavirus in Idaho is still low, the situation is rapidly evolving and we do expect confirmed cases in Idaho at some point,” Little said in a news release. “Idaho is prepared, and we all must do our part to prevent the spread of coronavirus by washing your hands frequently, staying home if you are sick, and avoiding others who are sick.”

The state also is guaranteed at least $4.568 million in federal funds to respond to the virus, the release said. Congress this week approved the use of $8.3 billion in supplemental spending to prepare and respond to COVID-19.

In addition to creating an emergency fund, Gov. Little formed a coronavirus working group that will meet at least weekly. It consists of leaders from public health, health care and public schools. The city of Boise is also is also setting up its own task force on the issue.

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