From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Marking the milestone one-year anniversary of COVID-19 in Idaho

The one-year anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 in Idaho is coming up on Saturday, March 13.

For many of us, it’s been the longest year of our lives. We’ve sacrificed gatherings with family and friends, hugs and in-person time with grandma and grandpa and other people at high-risk for serious illness, as well as travel and vacations. We have learned to work from home, or had our work dramatically reduced or stopped, and had our lives mostly upended by this insidious virus.

Many of us weren’t able to watch our kids at their sporting events and competitions. We’ve worn masks whenever we’re in public places where we can’t maintain at least 6 feet between us.

And too many of us have made the greatest involuntary sacrifice of all with the COVID-related death of a loved one.

I want to thank you all for the sacrifices you’ve made in the past year because of the pandemic. I know it has not been easy.

But I am encouraged by recent trends in COVID-19 data. Testing percent positivity is less than 5 percent and has been for the past couple of weeks. Case numbers have fallen and now seem to be leveling off. Hospitalizations have decreased. The number of Idahoans getting vaccinated increases each day.

Every day, we’re getting closer to getting back to normal.

In one year, the virus that causes COVID-19 has affected a significant number of Idahoans.

More than 1,900 Idahoans have died.

More than 1.1 million COVID-19 tests have been performed on over 650,000 Idahoans.

More than 174,000 Idahoans have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

More than 300,000 people who live or work in Idaho have been vaccinated with more than 485,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

There are signs of hope. People are getting vaccinated. Spring is almost here. The days are getting longer. And temperatures are getting warmer. As each day passes, we are getting closer to patio lunches at our favorite restaurants and backyard barbecues with loved ones we haven’t been able to gather with, without risk of spreading COVID-19.

“Normal” is coming. We must keep this momentum going because I, for one, am tired of not seeing people’s smiles on fabulous sunny spring days in Idaho. But until more people are vaccinated, we must continue to wear face coverings in public, stay 6 feet apart, keep our hands clean, and stay home if we’re sick.

Thank you for your efforts to help Idaho get back to normal as soon as possible.

If you want to get a COVID-19 vaccine, you can sign up today using the new pre-registration system. Getting the vaccine will help stop the spread of COVID19 and is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.  

I hope you all have a safe and healthy weekend.

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