NAMPA, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Thursday said he’s directing $30 million to expand COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools.
The Republican governor made the announcement at Nampa High School in southwestern Idaho as coronavirus cases spike due to the delta variant just as students prepare to return to class next week.
House Republicans earlier this year killed a bill to use $40 million in federal coronavirus relief funds for voluntary testing in public and private schools.
Little urged residents who haven’t been vaccinated to get the shot to help avoid COVID-19. Little said workers getting sick and schools shutting down due to coronavirus outbreaks and parents forced to stay home to care for kids and miss work could slow Idaho’s economic rebound.
Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation with about half of people ages 12 and up fully vaccinated, compared to 58% nationally.
Of Idaho’s 206,000 coronavirus cases, about 10%, or just over 20,000, have been school-age kids from 5 to 17. There is currently no vaccine for children under age 12.
Nearly 99% of Idaho residents getting COVID-19 since Jan. 1 were not vaccinated. Nearly 99% of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 since Jan. 1 have been people who weren’t vaccinated.