The office of Gov. Brad Little has confirmed that two members of his staff have tested positive for the coronavirus.
“In both instances, neither staff member had contact with the governor during the infectious period,” according to an email from his press secretary, Marissa Morrison Hyer. “The governor has not been tested for COVID-19 at this point.”
Little is 66 years old, in an age category that has been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one that is at an increased risk for severe illness.
Morrison Hyer declined to provide additional details about the cases, including when the staff members were diagnosed with the illness and if they required hospitalization.
“The governor’s office adheres to all business protocols, including cloth face coverings, physical distancing, hand sanitizer and routine and thorough sanitizing of shared spaces, such as conference rooms,” she said.
The update about Little’s staff members came as the number of coronavirus cases inched up in the region, the Nez Perce Tribe tested nearly 300 individuals and Washington State University instituted a new policy that requires employees to screen themselves before entering any school facility.
A total of nine cases were reported Monday in north central Idaho and southeastern Washington with no new deaths.
All of the six new instances of the illness in north central Idaho involved people who were younger than 40 years old and who are recovering at home, according to an email from District Director Carol Moehrle, who didn’t provide an age breakdown by county.
Of those, one is a child who is 9 years old or younger. Another is between the ages of 10 and 19. Two are in their 20s and two are in their 30s.
The number of confirmed cases in Nez Perce County rose by two to 82. Nez Perce County continues to be the only north central Idaho county that has had any deaths. That number has remained at 19 since May 7, and all but one of those deaths were among residents of Life Care Center of Lewiston. The county has also reported 12 probable cases.
Latah County reported three new cases, bringing its totals to 14 confirmed cases and one probable case. Idaho County, which hadn’t reported a case since April 3, added one new confirmed case to bring its total to four. Clearwater County stayed at a single confirmed case, and Lewis County continued to not have any cases.
In Washington, the number of confirmed cases in Whitman County increased from 36 to 38, both men between the ages of 40 and 59, said Troy Henderson, Whitman County director of public health.
Of the 38 cases, 31 individuals have recovered, six are stable and isolating at home, and one person is hospitalized, he said.
Asotin County reported one new confirmed case, for a total of 21 with two deaths. The person is a man in his 60s, who has a mild case and isn’t hospitalized, said Brady Woodbury, public health administrator in Asotin County.
Garfield County doesn’t have any confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The Nez Perce Tribe has 20 confirmed cases with no new ones reported Monday, said Kayeloni Scott, a spokeswoman for the tribe.
A rise in confirmed cases prompted the tribe to make free testing available Monday to enrolled Nimiipuu Health patients and employees of Nez Perce tribal entities.
A total of 286 tests were conducted with 21 negatives, Scott said. Results of the remaining tests are expected in three to five days.
The Nez Perce Tribe isn’t the only major employer in the region working to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The region’s largest employer, Washington State University, which has 7,005 employees in Pullman, instituted a new protocol Monday.
All employees are required to go to a password-protected online portal and answer eight questions before they go to any WSU facility, even if it’s just for a few minutes to pick up office supplies, WSU spokesman Phil Weiler said.
The questions ask for information such as if they have had symptoms like shortness of breath or a loss of taste or smell in the last 14 days or since their last visit to campus.
The questions were developed in accordance with guidelines from the CDC and the Washington State Department of Health, he said.
If they answer yes to any of the questions, they are expected to not enter any campus building, follow their department’s procedure for sick leave or working from home, and contact their health care provider.
Right now a “vast majority” of staff members are working off site, with all summer instruction being conducted online, Weiler said.
Introducing the protocol now is intended to make it a habit before classes resume in the fall.
“Until we get a treatment or vaccine (this protocol) will be part of the steps we need to take to keep ourselves and others safe from the illness,” he said.
Williams may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2261.