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Casper addresses COVID-19 vaccine, upcoming projects and more during State of the City address

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Mayor Rebecca Casper giving the State of the City address Thursday evening. | Screengrab

IDAHO FALLS — Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper delivered the annual State of the City address Thursday evening via a video broadcast on the city’s website. In it, she gave special thanks to the first responders and city employees for their work last year. She also honored the 116 residents of Bonneville County who have passed away due to complications related to COVID-19.

Near the end of the address, the mayor spoke about the COVID-19 vaccine, saying, “I expect the coming months to bring what we have been waiting for since those first weeks last March. We really can’t celebrate enough the scientific minds and the enormous global effort that has resulted in vaccines that will confer needed protection from COVID-19. But we are not there quite yet.”

She explained that when the vaccine is introduced to the community, there will be people unable to receive it for various reasons. However, she says this makes getting the shot more important for those who are able to so the community can reach “herd immunity.”

“We want to be able to get to the point where, even if a person gets sick, there is minimal chance of an outbreak because so many of the people around him or her will be vaccinated and the disease won’t be able to spread,” Casper explained.

Though the percentage that would need to be vaccinated is different depending on the disease, Casper stated experts are currently suggesting the number for COVID-19 is at least 75-80%, meaning that percentage of the population would need to get the vaccine to slow the spread in the community.

It will take several months for Idaho Falls to get to this level, according to Casper, so regular social distancing and other COVID-19 safety procedures will continue to be needed.

“I just want to take a moment to express my gratitude to those who are doing all they can to navigate this safely. We know we are tired of it. I especially want to thank all who do so kindly,” the mayor said. “Now, perhaps more than ever … compassion, consideration and patience may be the key to getting to the end of the pandemic safely.”

Casper also gave updates on different city departments and their plans for 2021. A video was shown where each department head spoke about their challenges and highlights over the past 12 months.

The Parks and Recreation Department highlighted a splash pad that will be installed at Rinehart Park this summer and the continued work on restoring Fun Land in Tautphaus Park in preparation for a 75th anniversary in 2022. The community is invited to donate to the project.

RELATED: City unveils plans for ‘Funland’ amusement park restoration project in Idaho Falls

Casper also addressed the need for a “Revenue Guarantee Fund” for the Idaho Falls Airport. This will act as a financial guarantee that is required for most airlines before they establish new routes. The creation of the fund will help encourage more airlines and routes in the airport. Business leaders who wish to support the fund should reach out to any city official for more information.

Other information, including a plan to update city’s comprehensive plan, information on the new water tower, fiber, power, and the police and fire departments, was also discussed.

The last announcement introduced the Idaho Falls Family Happy Hour as a free online variety show available for the community to enjoy starting this weekend.

RELATED: Local businesses hoping to spread joy during COVID-19 with new virtual happy hour

Casper ended her speech with her confidence in the capacity Idaho Falls has to grow strong in the next year and quoted herself in what she has said in State of the City addresses in the past.

“The state of our city is strong … and Idaho Falls’ future is bright … I could not be more proud to serve you and to be a part of this great community.”

WATCH CASPER’S SPEECH HERE

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