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Idaho governor sees life returning to normal with vaccine

| December 22, 2020 12:00 PM

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Life could be back to normal in about four months with coronavirus vaccinations now being administered, Idaho Gov. Brad Little said.

The Republican governor late last week said healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents should have their vaccinations by the end of January.

He said the next wave of vaccinations to essential workers such as firefighters and police could be done by June. But he said it will be longer than that before everyone who wants a vaccination can get one.

“With the vaccines coming, we are maybe 120 days away from, for the most part, life back to normal,” Little said Friday, the Post Register reported. “And it will be longer than that before everyone gets vaccinated.”

About 3,500 people have been vaccinated since the initial shots started last week. Little said he expects vaccinations to pick up in the coming weeks as federal authorities have now approved two different types of vaccinations.

“It’s going to be my responsibility to help make the point, and have our public health officials make the case to people to choose to get that vaccine," Little said.

State health officials say that about 130,000 residents have been infected and that nearly 1,300 have died as cases have surged in Idaho. Health care facilities and state officials in recent weeks have have been warning that medical facilities could be overwhelmed with patients, forcing decisions about who gets treatment and who doesn't.

The state's positivity rate for those being tested reached nearly 20% earlier this month, but dipped to 16.5% last week. Officials say the positivity rate needs to be below 5%.

The state's unemployment rate for November dropped to 4.8% from October's 5.5%, but officials said that was mainly due to a drop in the workforce as people stopped trying to land a job.

In general, healthcare workers who come in direct contact with COVID-19 patients are first on the list to get the vaccine followed by outpatient staff essential for maintaining hospital capacity. Others high on the list include staff at long-term care facilities, home-care providers, and emergency medical responders.

Residents of long-term care facilities are also in the initial category of those receiving the shots. Older adults are much more susceptible to serious illness or death from the virus.

The next category eligible to get the vaccine is essential workers. That category leads off with firefighters and police, followed by school teachers and daycare workers.