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Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson Encourages Innovative Approach to COVID-19 Vaccine

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(Press Release, April 1, 2020)

Simpson Encourages Innovative Approach to COVID-19 Vaccine

Letter to VP Pence raises need for timely response to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments

U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson (ID-2nd Dist.)

Washington, D.C. – On Monday, Congressman Mike Simpson (ID-02) sent a letter to Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, encouraging the Coronavirus Task Force to explore innovative technologies that show promise in creating vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. The letter highlights past and current investments and past legislative efforts to encourage the use of innovative technologies to meet the Federal government’s goal of delivering a vaccine within 12 weeks of a declared pandemic.

Congressman Simpson was joined on the letter by the Ranking Member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Tom Cole (OK-04).

“COVID-19 is unlike anything our society has ever dealt with,” said Congressman Simpson. “That is why we need to explore all available technologies, both new and old, to respond efficiently and effectively. I am very encouraged that novel technology has already shown great progress in developing a vaccine for COVID-19. The Administration is working around the clock at every level to combat COVID-19 and I am thankful for their efforts thus far. With so many different issues to address, my hope is that this letter raises a potential solution for the Coronavirus Task Force given the Federal government’s past support and interest across many agencies.”

“In this letter to Vice President Mike Pence, my colleague Congressman Mike Simpson and I highlight the importance of utilizing novel manufacturing platforms and technologies to ensure treatments and eventual vaccines for COVID-19 are developed as rapidly as possible. Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services’ goal is to develop vaccines within 12 weeks of a declared pandemic,” said Congressman Tom Cole. “By exploring various options in vaccine manufacturing and deployment, the United States can meet this goal and slow the spread of this coronavirus and future pandemics in a more timely manner.”

The letter reads, “As the United States combats the rapid spread of COVID-19, we would like to draw your attention to the attached March 12, 2020 Defense One report on a company leveraging innovative, flexible, plant-based, technologies to rapidly respond to COVID-19. According to the article, the company “produced a COVID-19 vaccine in just 20 days” and “could produce as many as 10 million doses a month.” This new technology was proven in 2012 in conjunction with an investment by the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency[1]. Under the partnership, an H1N1 influenza vaccine was developed in under a month and the ability to rapidly scale up production to provide millions of doses validated. In 2018, we raised the prospect of leveraging successful taxpayer investments in pursuit of vaccine preparedness with HHS: “Has the Department considered pursuing successful capabilities already funded by other agencies to include DOD’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)?”

The text of the letter can be found here:

https://simpson.house.gov/uploadedfiles/vp_vaccine_letter.pdf

The Defense One article back be found here:

https://simpson.house.gov/uploadedfiles/vaccine.pdf

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Idaho Senators James Risch and Mike Crapo Call on HHS to Help Rural Health Providers

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(Press Release, March 30, 2020)

(U.S. Senator James Risch, Official Photo)

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators for Idaho Jim Risch and Mike Crapo sent a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar urging the prioritization of rural hospitals and clinics.

The letter, which was signed by 41 senators and 81 representatives, requested the Trump administration use the funding included in the recently passed CARES Act to sustain rural health providers.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, many of Idaho’s rural hospitals and health care providers have ceased performing elective procedures and seeing non-urgent patients, directly threatening these clinics’ financial viability.

(U.S. Senator Mike Crapo, official photo)

 

 

In their letter, Risch and Crapo urged Secretary Azar to take immediate steps to provide financial relief for rural providers during this global pandemic:

“We are hearing from rural hospitals from across the country that have only days left of cash on hand – money needed for payroll and supplies,” wrote the lawmakers. “Mr. Secretary, our rural providers need your immediate assistance. Congress has provided you with the funding and flexibility. Now it is up to the administration to respond with rapid action to sustain rural providers. Any unnecessary delay will only worsen this situation. Therefore, we request you make the financial relief of rural hospitals a priority. Rural hospitals need access to financial resources immediately and in the most streamlined manner.”

In addition to Risch and Crapo, the following members of the U.S. Senate signed onto the letter: Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Michael Bennett (D-CO), John Kennedy (R-LA), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), James Lankford (R-OK), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Steve Daines (R-MT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Todd Young (R-IN), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jon Tester (D-MT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Boozman (R-AR), John Hoeven (R-ND), David Perdue (R-GA), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Joe Manchin III (D-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Angus S. King, Jr. (I-ME), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).

Read the full letter below:

March 30, 2020

The Honorable Alex Azar
Secretary
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Azar,

Rural hospitals are the backbone of communities across our nation. These providers are on the frontlines combating the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. It is imperative these health care professionals receive the immediate support they need to continue caring for our communities.

Small and rural hospitals across the nation are facing an acute financial crisis. Even before this crisis, nearly one-half of rural hospitals were operating at a financial loss, and hundreds were on the brink of closure. Now, they are confronting impossible choices during this public health emergency. The administration must focus on ensuring the financial viability of these providers. Failure to take fast and aggressive action will put the health of our communities at further risk.

In response to this crisis, Congress has enacted a series of bipartisan laws to rescue our economy and health care system. Most recently, we passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This legislation includes new funding to provide financial relief for hospitals. The CARES Act provides you with the flexibility to deliver assistance where it is needed most. Right now, some rural hospitals are reporting they are running out of operating funds. This jeopardizes their ability to maintain health care services during the COVID-19 outbreak. We cannot afford to ignore their pressing needs.

The vast majority of rural hospitals have also ceased performing elective procedures and seeing non-urgent patients. They know the COVID-19 emergency confronting our country must take precedence. However, these actions threaten their financial viability. We are hearing from rural hospitals from across the country that have only days left of cash-on-hand – money needed for payroll and supplies.

Mr. Secretary, our rural providers need your immediate assistance. Congress has provided you with the funding and flexibility. Now it is up to the administration to respond with rapid action to sustain rural providers. Any unnecessary delay will only worsen this situation.

Therefore, we request you make the financial relief of rural hospitals a priority. Rural hospitals need access to financial resources immediately and in the most streamlined manner. We also request you provide Members of Congress with a personal briefing by teleconference by April 3, 2020.

Thank you for your attention to ensuring the health and well-being of patients in rural America. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your efforts addressing our concerns.

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Editorial: Kudos to American Businesses for Joining Coronavirus Fight

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Kudos to American Businesses for Joining Coronavirus Fight

by: John Crowder, Editor and Publisher of the Pocatello-Chubbuck Observer

John Crowder, Publisher, Pocatello-Chubbuck Observer

Since his election, President Donald Trump has delivered on his promise to make American business stronger than ever.  Prior to the coronavirus, business optimism was at record highs, as we saw the highest stock prices in history, along with record employment across every demographic.

Now, the President has asked the business community for help in combating the deadly coronavirus threatening the health of people across the nation and the world.  They haven’t disappointed.  American businesses, both large and small, have voluntarily stepped in to help.

My Pillow has converted 75% of their manufacturing capacity to produce up to 50,000 face masks per day.  Tesla purchased and donated more than 1,000 ventilators.  Lockheed Martin donated use of their vehicle fleet and corporate aircraft for medical supply delivery.  Anheuser-Busch is now working to produce hand sanitizer.

These are just some of the many companies that have joined the battle against the coronavirus.  As reported by Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner (see  Mr. Bedard’s full article, here: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/team-usa-50-companies-join-trumps-war-on-coronavirus), more than 50 major companies have joined the President’s fight against the virus.

Many in the media have been calling for President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act, to force companies to follow the dicatates of government officials with respect to how they should respond.  Thankfully, the President did not heed these calls.  Once again, he relied on the spirit and patriotism of Americans, in this case American businessmen and businesswomen, to come together against a common threat.

                                              Mayday Movers: “Saving Your Day”

The companies that have joined this fight provide true examples of patriotism.  They illustrate why America is an exceptional country, and why people the world over seek to make this country their home.

Thank you to all the businesses, both large and small, that are contributing in this time of need.

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Thank you, also, to the many Americans doing their part; from volunteering, to donating blood, to checking up on their neighbors, to delivering packages, to driving the trucks that supply stores across the nation.  You make me proud to be an American.

Do you have a small business that has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus?  Have you found ways to adapt?  The Pocatello Chubbuck Observer wants to help.  Now through April 17, let us know what you’re doing to keep your business going, and we will let the public know, at no charge!  Whether you have instituted carry-out, delivery service, or curbside pickups for meals, or some other solution, email our publisher, John Crowder, at jcrowder27@hotmail.com and let us help you get the word out.

 

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Guest Column: U.S. Senator Mike Crapo on Confronting COVID-19

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Confronting COVID-19

by: U. S. Senator Mike Crapo

(U.S. Senator Mike Crapo, official photo)

The coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic has challenged our sense of normalcy, and it has tested every institution of daily life we know.  The crisis has had a major impact on the physical and economic health of our country, and a major response has been required.

Thank you to all those within the health care system and others on the frontlines of battling the coronavirus for your dedication to treating patients and working to identify therapeutic medications (for short-term treatment) as well as developing vaccines (for long-term immunity).

Phase 1—To help with this immediate response, on March 5, I voted in support of Phase 1 of the coronavirus response legislation, H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.  This legislation, which President Trump signed into law on March 6, provided $8.3 billion in emergency funding to help bolster states’ responses to the virus, advance research to develop a vaccine, fund community health centers and provide for other emergency response mechanisms.

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Phase 2—On March 18, I voted to support Phase 2 of the coronavirus response legislation, H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  This legislation, signed into law by President Trump on March 18, includes provisions to provide relief to Americans: providing states with an increase in federal medical assistance; expanding emergency nutrition assistance; ensuring TRICARE recipients, covered veterans and federal employees are covered for diagnostic testing; creating an emergency paid leave program under the Family and Medical Leave Act; providing tax credits to employers to cover certain wages paid to employees under the sick and family leave programs; and providing $1 billion to states to process and pay unemployment benefits.

Phase 3—The Senate has since taken its third major action to assist workers, families and small businesses who face financial fallout during this extraordinarily difficult time.  This effort resulted in Phase 3 of the coronavirus response legislation, the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, that puts needed cash directly into the hands of American workers and families, provides rapid relief to small businesses, helps stabilize our markets and the economy, and sends a massive new infusion of resources to the front lines of the medical response.

As Senate Banking Committee Chairman, I worked on the Senate task force charged with addressing small business and market liquidity issues, and led negotiations on a provision that designates $500 billion to replenish the Exchange Stabilization Fund housed within the U.S. Treasury Department.  The Federal Reserve will use $454 billion of this fund to provide broad-based loans to severely distressed industries, cities and states.  Importantly, the Federal Reserve can leverage this money to inject many times that amount into the marketplace, unleashing upwards of $4 trillion into the economy.  This will be a critical tool as Main Street businesses seek funding to stay open and keep their employees on payroll until this crisis has passed.

The CARES Act takes a number of additional bold steps to preserve and protect the economic foundations of our nation and help on the front lines of fighting this epidemic:

  • Direct financial help for the American people including cash payments, expanded access to unemployment insurance and delayed tax filing deadlines;
  • Rapid relief for small businesses and incentives to keep their employees on payroll;
  • Significant steps to stabilize our economy, keep businesses open and protect jobs;
  • Bolstered telehealth capabilities and additional flexibilities;
  • Increased support for health care services at Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities;
  • Ensured patient access to any future COVID-19 vaccine by waiving cost-sharing requirements in private and federal health insurance programs;
  • Expansion of and increased funding for the Strategic National Stockpile to include personal protective equipment; and
  • More support for the brave health care professionals and the patients fighting the coronavirus on the front lines.

Altogether, this amounts to approximately $2 trillion in direct appropriations, combined with approximately $4 trillion in liquidity created through the Federal Reserve—a nearly $6 trillion package to combat the devastating economic toll this pandemic has taken.  The American people are resilient, and we will see the end of this challenge as we continue to work together.

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Pocatello: Mayor Brian Blad’s April Newsletter Posted

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City of Pocatello City Hall

(Press Release, April 1, 2020)

Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad (photo credit: City of Pocatello website)

Mayor Brian Blad’s newsletter for the month of April has been posted on the City of Pocatello website.

In this month’s newsletter, Mayor Blad addresses how the City is responding to the coronavirus pandemic, and asks residents to get news on the situation from reputable sources, including Southeastern Idaho Public Health.  Mayor Blad says, ” We continue to coordinate with the federal government and State of Idaho, specifically with Southeastern Idaho Public Health.  They are the agency in charge when large-scale health emergencies happen in Idaho.  They have the factual, scientific data.”

Also in the newsletter, Mayor Blad notes that Marshall Public Library will be celebrating National Poetry Month through the month of April. “Starting now, poets and prose writers of all ages are encouraged to submit their best work for inclusion on the Library’s Poetry Wall,” he says.

In another article, the Mayor says, “Many of you have been asking me to include an article about barking dogs.”  This article outlines the policies of the City of Pocatello with respect to barking dogs.

To read these articles, and more in the Mayor’s Newsletter, visit:

https://pocatello.us/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/1258

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White House Proclamation on National Child Abuse Prevention Month, 2020

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Photo Credit: Aaron Kittredge

(White House Press Release, March 31, 2020)

President Donald J. Trump (White House Official Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Childhood should be filled with joy, hope, unconditional love, and acceptance. Tragically, however, far too many of our Nation’s young people spend this foundational time of their lives in fear, pain, and uncertainty, enduring abuse and neglect that threatens their health and well-being. During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we condemn this horrific depravity and reaffirm our unwavering commitment to protecting our children and strengthening our families.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of children across our country suffer from abuse and neglect, a fact that is both sobering and heart-wrenching. In January, I signed an Executive Order to coordinate the Federal Government’s efforts to prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children online, protect and support victims of child exploitation, and provide prevention education to raise awareness and help lower the incidence of child exploitation. I also signed into law legislation to enhance our child welfare systems by supporting at-risk families through mental health and substance abuse treatment and programs to develop parenting skills.

With our international partners in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, the United States developed the Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. The Voluntary Principles establish a baseline framework for companies that provide online services to deter use of the internet as a tool for sexually exploiting and abusing children. Several major technology companies have publicly adopted the principles and more will follow in the coming months. These companies have a responsibility to prevent their platforms from becoming a haven for child predators and to also ensure law enforcement is able to investigate and prosecute offenders when children have been victimized.

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Child abuse causes the loss of innocence and hope. Loving, devoted, and caring families can serve as a bulwark against our children suffering from neglect and abuse. Child Welfare Information Gateway, the information service of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau, offers several resources on preventing child abuse and promoting healthy families through its National Child Abuse Prevention Month website. Familiarizing yourself with the information provided by the Department of Health and Human Services can help you learn more about what you and your community can do to support children and families during this month and throughout the year.

To eradicate this blight on our society, compassionate and concerned Americans must work to effect change and impact young lives. Child welfare agencies, clergy members, educators, medical and law enforcement professionals, neighbors, friends, and extended family members all contribute to protecting and nurturing our Nation’s youth. Foster, kinship, and adoptive parents open their hearts and their homes to children in crisis and empower them to find happiness and achieve their dreams. Working together, these forces for good can ensure the welfare of children who have experienced the traumas of abuse or neglect and give them a promising future.

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The success of our Nation is reflected in our economic and cultural prosperity and military might, but our character is revealed by how we cherish and protect the weak, innocent, and vulnerable. All children are uniquely created in the image of God and gifted with both purpose and unlimited potential. We can and must relentlessly protect our children, homes, and communities from the scourge of these shameful tragedies and support families and communities to ensure that all children have the opportunity to reach their potential.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2020 as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. I call upon all Americans to invest in the lives of our Nation’s children, to be aware of their safety and well-being, and to support efforts that promote their psychological, physical, and emotional development.

                                       Pacific Rim Consulting, Offering Telehealth Counseling

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fourth.

DONALD J. TRUMP

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6.5 Magnitude Earthquake in Challis, Idaho, Felt in Pocatello, Chubbuck

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(April 1, 2020)

Last evening, just before 6:00 p.m. MST, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake centered near Challis, Idaho, occurred.  The earthquake was felt in Pocatello and Chubbuck and as far away as Montana.

The earthquake was the largest to occur in Idaho since the 1983 temblor that measured 6.9 near Sun Valley, Idaho.

Earthquakes occur frequently in Idaho, but most are of relatively low magnitude.  In the last year, according to earthquaketrack.com, Idaho experienced 525 earthquakes.

To learn more about earthquakes in Idaho, visit: https://earthquaketrack.com/p/united-states/idaho/biggest

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SIPH Announces Two Additional Cases of COVID-19 in Southeast Idaho

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(Press Release, March 31, 2020)

Southeastern Idaho Public Health (SIPH) has confirmed two additional cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in southeast Idaho. One in Bannock County and one in Bingham County, bringing the total number of cases to six in southeast Idaho (four in Bannock County and two in Bingham County). Details on the new case are listed below. Southeastern Idaho Public Health includes eight counties (Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Butte, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida, and Power).

The Bannock County patient is a male in his 30s. He is self-isolating at home. This case appears to be travel-related. Contact tracing is ongoing.

The Bingham County patient is a female in her 40s. She is hospitalized at this time, and we do not know if this case is travel related. The investigation is ongoing.

In the United States, there have been 140,904 cases and 2,405 deaths as of March 30, 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Epidemiologists at SIPH are working to investigate possible contacts of cases. All household members of the confirmed cases have been asked to self-isolate at home for a prescribed period of time. If other people are found to have been exposed, health officials will provide guidance to these individuals and they will be asked to self-monitor for the development of symptoms.

SIPH will continue to monitor the situation closely and is working with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, city and county leaders, schools, emergency management, healthcare providers, and our community at large to help prevent the spread of this virus.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19:

– Follow Governor Little’s Statewide Stay-Home Order at https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/
– Stay home if you are sick.
– Avoid people who are sick.
– Practice social distancing (6ft).
– Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
– Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
– Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
– Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs using a disinfecting solution.

For more information, call SIPH’s call center Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at (208) 234-5875.

For Idaho-specific information about the novel coronavirus, please visit https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/. For southeast Idaho information, please visit https://siphidaho.org/ or join us Monday-Friday at 11 am for Facebook Live.

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Pocatello: City Council Meetings Scheduled for Thursday, April 2, 2020, Cancelled

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City of Pocatello City Hall

(Press Release, March 31, 2020)

Pocatello City Clerk Ruth Newsom sent the following notice today:

CITY COUNCIL
CLARIFICATION AND
REGULAR COUNCIL MEETINGS
CITY OF POCATELLO, IDAHO
APRIL 2 , 20 20
COUNCIL CHAMBERS
CITY HALL

Notice is hereby given the City Council Clarification meeting at 5:30 p.m. and Regular Council meeting at 6:00 p.m. scheduled for Thursday, April 2, 2020 have been cancelled.
Items, as needed, will be rescheduled to a future meeting.

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Idaho’s Primary Election to Remain on May 19, Will be Conducted by Mail

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(Press Release, March 30, 2020)

Governor Brad Little (Official Photo)

Boise, Idaho – Governor Brad Little and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney announced today there will be no change in Idaho’s primary election date of May 19.

The election will be conducted by mail pursuant to the existing laws for absentee voting due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

The move is necessary after it became clear that sufficient polling places and poll workers could not be obtained for the election.

The Governor and Secretary of State will work with the Attorney General and the clerks of Idaho’s 44 counties to refine the absentee voting process for these unique circumstances, including setting appropriate deadlines for registering to vote, requesting a ballot be sent to your home, and returning the ballot.

Governor Little will issue a proclamation addressing the election in the coming days.

“While the coronavirus situation may change how we practice our right to vote in this primary election, it is important to keep our election dates in place,” Governor Little said. “I urge all voting Idahoans to request their absentee ballots as soon as possible so they can vote from home this year,” Governor Little said.

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“Voting absentee is the right thing to do under these circumstances, and my office has already set up a website that allows Idaho voters to register and request an absentee ballot,” Secretary Denney said.

Idahoans can request an absentee ballot at:

Vote Early Idaho

“We all hope Idaho’s situation with coronavirus will improve before election day on May 19, but decisions cannot wait. Governor Little is making the right call to conduct the election by mail. It is important for all Idaho citizens of voting age to request an absentee ballot and fully exercise our precious right to vote. This is our chance to show the world that, even under difficult conditions, our American values are alive and well,” Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill said.

“Voting is one of our most basic rights as American citizens, and it is important that Idahoans continue to exercise this right this year by voting absentee,” House Speaker Scott Bedke said.

“Idaho’s county clerks appreciate the move to absentee to keep voters and poll workers safe. We are prepared to carry out this election and ensure the people of Idaho can exercise their right to vote,” said Kristina Glascock, Twin Falls County Clerk and president of the Idaho Association of County Recorders and Clerks.