More emergency funding is available for childcare providers in Idaho

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) has launched Phase 2 of the Idaho Child Care Emergency Grant. This is a new opportunity open to all eligible childcare providers, including those who may have previously received grant funding from DHW.

Some basic details about this phase of the Idaho Child Care Emergency Grant include:

  • Applications will only be accepted via email to ChildCareGrant@dhw.idaho.gov through Aug. 31.
  • To qualify, a childcare program must be participating with Idaho Child Care Program and/or are licensed and open and providing full-time childcare.
  • Phase 2 funding should be used to support staffing costs, cleaning and janitorial supplies and services, business operations, and transportation.  
  • This is not a “first-come, first-served” grant opportunity. All eligible applicants will receive at least two monthly award payments.
  • Each applicant will be responsible for the recordkeeping of all required grant documentation and proof of eligible expenditures.
  • Phase 2 grants will be distributed in equal monthly payments, beginning in August until the funds are depleted. Total grant amounts will be determined by provider type, as follows:
Phase II Idaho Child Care Emergency Grant
 Large centers (Licensed capacity of 25+ children)  $ 5,000
 Small centers (Licensed capacity of 13-24 children)  $ 2,500
 Licensed group homes (7-12 children)  $ 1,000
 Family childcare homes (Up to 6 children)  $    500
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Face coverings are protective, research shows

We have received several questions about whether face coverings actually protect us from the virus that causes COVID-19.

The evidence from many different sources is clear – face coverings are protective, especially when they’re used with the other recommended guidelines of keeping 6 feet between you and everyone else in public, washing or sanitizing your hands frequently, and staying home if you’re sick. Here’s a list of articles and studies and reports that have slight variations on the same theme — #MaskUpIdaho.

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Wear a mask for your neighbors and your community: A call for action from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

STAY THE COURSE TO SLOW THE SPREAD

The continued increase of COVID-19 cases in Ada County, and other areas of the state, is troubling. On social media, we are being asked “What can we do to slow the spread?”  In the absence of a vaccine or therapeutic interventions, the answer is simple, and it bears repeating:

  • 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

WEARING A MASK IS AN ACT OF LOVE AND RESPECT FOR OTHERS

During the last few months, the subject of wearing a mask has been hotly debated in public forums (and especially on social media) throughout the United States. In Idaho, some cities and counties are requiring the wearing of masks in public places when it is difficult to maintain six feet of physical distancing. Many businesses nationwide are requiring masks upon entry. We support those efforts.

At DHW, we highly recommend wearing masks or cloth face coverings. It helps slow the spread of COVID19 and shows your concern for your friends, neighbors, and community. There is mounting evidence that masks do prevent the spread of the virus, if we all wear masks or cloth face coverings properly.

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COVID-19: Facts vs. Fiction

There is a lot of COVID-19 information available through social media and other communications channels. Some of it is helpful and factual, and some of it is opinion or speculation. And some is just plain false. We want to help you separate the COVID-19 facts from fiction as you navigate through this pandemic.

Is wearing a mask or cloth face covering really helpful? The evidence is clear — cloth face coverings reduce the spread of COVID-19. They serve two purposes: to protect the public from those who may be infected with COVID-19 and to protect those infected with COVID-19 from spreading the disease to others.

Wearing a mask is most effective when everyone does it, and it also shows respect and concern for your neighbors and community. Masks are appropriate when physical distancing of at least six feet is not possible.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under the age of 2, anyone with difficulty breathing, anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove the covering without assistance.

Does COVID-19 more severely affect older adults? Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as you get older, your risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases. For example, people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s. Similarly, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older.

There are also other factors that can increase your risk for severe illness, such as underlying medical conditions. By understanding the factors that put you at an increased risk, you can make decisions about what kind of precautions you should take in your daily life.

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Let’s never stop, Idaho! New programs and services offer behavioral health assistance during the pandemic

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” Emily Dickenson

With the COVID-19 pandemic now firmly sitting on our doorstep, most of us are experiencing our first ever black swan event – a once in a generation major occurrence that has come as a complete surprise, challenges our assumptions and ways of life, and tests our collective strength. While history shows us that all pandemics will come to an end, this one does feel infinite.

Adjusting to the “new normal” is challenging, tiring, and it stretches our perceived psychological limits. We’re all feeling pressure and stress about the economy, our health, our relationships with family and friends, and our jobs amid large spikes of COVID-19 cases across some areas of the state. It’s easy to feel like maybe the best times are behind us.

But during quiet moments of despair we might overlook how much more we are connecting with friends and family via technology, the simple beauty and wonder in our own backyards at dawn and dusk, and the new and surprising habits and traditions we are creating that bring us joy and pleasure.

Although it can often feel like it, you are not alone. The Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) in the Department of Health and Welfare is continually thinking about how to better serve the evolving needs of mental health providers and the public. DBH created a statewide COVID19 Strike Team in April that meets daily to address our specific state needs during the growing public and behavioral health emergency related to the pandemic.

Thanks to funding from our federal partners, DBH is now implementing an emergency grant offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) under the federal Department of Health & Human Services, that is allowing us to offer important programs to help Idahoans. 

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Have a safe Fourth of July weekend: A message from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

This upcoming holiday weekend is a test for all of us. Can we enjoy our beautiful state, spend time with family, take a vacation, and still keep ourselves and communities safe from the spread of COVID-19?

The answer is: We can. I hope you will remember to do your part this weekend to keep Idaho open and protect our vulnerable loved ones. It’s a personal choice, but I hope you take that choice seriously. Because COVID-19 is no joke.

We need to slow the spread

We know that the majority of new cases are in Ada County and, in particular, there is a surge in new cases among young adults. Central Health District made the tough but appropriate and critical decision to move Ada County back to Stage 3 through a new Order.

Because of the continued increase in cases among young adults in many counties across the state, it is more important than ever to encourage young adults to take recommended precautions to protect those who are vulnerable in our state. We need to protect our parents and grandparents. We need to protect those with immunosuppressed systems. We need to show our families, friends, and communities that we understand we are all in this together, and we will do whatever we can to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Young adults may show very few symptoms and may even be asymptomatic, but they can spread the virus to others who may be more vulnerable. Let’s work together to keep our families safe. It really does take all of us.

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DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Stage 4 pause means it’s more important than ever to follow the guidelines

Gov. Brad Little announced Thursday that Idaho did not meet the metrics needed to move out of the final stage of the Idaho Rebounds plan. Idaho will stay in the final stage of the Idaho Rebounds plan for at least another two weeks.

Idaho did not meet the epidemiologic and healthcare criteria to advance past Stage 4:

  • The number of reported cases from June 10-25 trended upward instead of downward.
  • The percent of positive tests from June 8-21 trended upward instead of downward.
  • The average percent positive for the prior 14-day period was greater than 5-percent at 5.12-percent.
  • The number of healthcare workers reported with COVID-19 from June 10-23 trended upward, and the average number of healthcare workers reported having COVID-19 per day was greater than the standard of 2.

He also announced that the state’s COVID-19 response will transition to a more regional approach as the number of cases in some counties has increased significantly, but several others have had no reports of COVID-19 cases. The seven local public health districts across the state are continually evaluating the criteria at the local level and will announce any changes in moving forward.

What this all means is that it remains critical for everyone – especially those who are 18-29 years old — to follow the recommended guidelines and stay home if you’re sick, wear a face covering and keep six feet apart in public, and wash your hands frequently. It’s also a good idea to avoid large gatherings of people to help reduce your personal risk of getting COVID-19.

The ultimate goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep us within the capacity of our healthcare system so people who do need hospital-level care can get it when they need it.

Idaho’s success depends on us all.

Continue reading “DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Stage 4 pause means it’s more important than ever to follow the guidelines”

DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Please honor dads and granddads safely this weekend

The pandemic is not over. As states began to reopen, we are seeing increasing activity in Utah and Oregon, and in Idaho, we have seen the number of cases in our state increase over the past few days.

Because there is no vaccine or proven therapeutic interventions at this time, we have to take other precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state. It is up to each of us to protect our friends, families, neighbors, and community. You have heard these recommendations before, but they are worth repeating because they are more important than ever:

  • Keep at least six feet between you and others in public
  • Wear face coverings in public places (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus, and do not know it, from transmitting it to others)
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly

Nationally, approximately 41 percent of cases are found in adults between the ages of 18 and 44. Several states are seeing a concerning recent trend with increasing cases among those under 40.

 In our own state, 49 percent of known cases are in Idahoans under the age of 40. Younger adults often feel invincible or have heard that having COVID-19 may not be a serious condition for them. It’s true that approximately 80 percent of cases are mild, but there are severe cases in all age ranges.

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Idaho needs your help: Even though we have entered Stage 4, the pandemic isn’t over

Idaho entered the fourth stage of its plan to reopen on Saturday. All Idaho businesses can open their doors and resume serving their customers, with recommended precautions in place. However, we are not out of the woods yet.

It is tempting to act as if life is back to normal, back to before COVID-19 was spreading in Idaho’s communities. Everyone is tired of staying home and wearing face coverings when we venture out in public, myself included.  

But we can’t go back to normal yet because COVID-19 is still here. It’s still circulating and making people sick.

As evidence, we have recent reports of more than 30 people who visited bars in Downtown Boise who later tested positive for COVID-19 or are considered probable cases because they have the symptoms and were in close contact with the people who tested positive.

We have reports of many people testing positive for COVID-19 after attending family reunions, family and community barbeques, graduation and birthday parties, and church gatherings. We even have a few reports of deaths for people who attended these kinds of gatherings.

Continue reading “Idaho needs your help: Even though we have entered Stage 4, the pandemic isn’t over”

DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Let’s All Do Our Part to Keep Idaho Open

Yesterday, Gov. Brad Little announced that Idaho will enter Stage 4 of the Idaho Rebounds Plan to safely and responsibly open the economy in stages. However, it’s important to note that Idaho barely met the criteria established by our state’s public health team, so it is more important than ever to follow recommended precautions so we can keep Idaho open.

  • Keep at least six feet between you and others in public.
  • Wear face coverings in public places (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.)
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly.

On Saturday, 100 percent of businesses will be able to open their doors as we enter Stage 4 of our Idaho Rebounds plan. That means:

  • Visits to senior living facilities and other congregate facilities can resume, under strict protocols to protect residents and workers.
  • Nightclubs may operate with precautionary measures in place.
  • Large venues such as sporting events can operate under protocols, including physical distancing.
  • Employers can resume unrestricted staffing but should continue to practice physical distancing and sanitation, including the use of teleworking where practical. Special accommodations for individuals at higher risk for severe illness should be made.
  • Travel can continue to locations that have no ongoing virus transmission.
  • Gatherings of any size can occur as long as physical distancing and precautionary measures can occur.
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