Enjoy Your Labor Day Weekend Safely and Responsibly: A Reminder from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

As we approach this Labor Day weekend, I want to remind all Idahoans to minimize the risk of COVID-19 “transmissible moments” by wearing masks or cloth face coverings, washing your hands often, and keeping a physical distance of six feet when outside your home.

I know that holiday weekends are often a time for family or community gatherings, but I am encouraging you to celebrate safely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our risk for COVID-19 increases at events and in-person gatherings as follows:

  • Lowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings.
  • More risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least six feet apart, wear masks, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
  • Higher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least six feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.
  • Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least six feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.

Over the past few weeks, Idahoans have helped slow the spread of COVID-19 by following public health guidance and recommended precautions. Because of you, we have seen the number of new cases falling, and we are pleased and encouraged by the downward trend.

Local public health districts indicate that family gatherings, both small and large, are a significant source of community spread. If we want to keep our friends and families healthy and our kids in school, Idahoans should modify holiday weekend gatherings and celebrate in safe ways so we can continue to make progress against the spread of COVID-19.

Please help us and remind your social circles how to stay safe this Labor Day weekend!

Idaho remains in Stage 4

I hope you had the chance to watch Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s press conference yesterday, where he announced that Idaho would remain in Stage 4 for at least two more weeks. Although all of the metrics are trending downward, hospital admissions are still too high.

Additionally, he announced that the positivity rate (rate of tests that are positive) dropped to 8 percent. Although the rate is declining, it is still above our 5 percent goal. We are encouraged by these numbers, but we need to remain diligent. As Gov. Little said, “We cannot let our guard down.”

So I’m asking each of you, especially during this holiday weekend, to follow recommended precautions. Let’s continue our commitment to vulnerable Idahoans, our local businesses, and our students and teachers. Remember to:

  • Keep at least six feet between you and others in public
  • Wear face coverings in public places 
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly

I want to echo Gov. Little’s call to action to all Idahoans: “Keep up the good work.” Thank you for helping us keep our neighbors and communities safe from the spread of COVID-19.

One final thing – time to get your flu shot!

Be sure to get your flu shot preferably by the end of September. Although you may not be thinking about getting your flu shot this early, many places are already offering it. We want to make sure we don’t overburden hospitals and clinics with incidences of both the flu and COVID-19 and getting an annual flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your family.

Have a safe and healthy weekend, and #MaskUpIdaho.

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