Reader Quick Hits: May 27, 2020

COVID-19 update: Idaho added 32 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus today, putting the state total at 2,731, with 82 deaths reported. Today, the number of deaths nationwide passed 100,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. Gov. Brad Little will host a press conference on Thursday, May 28 at 12:30 p.m. PST to discuss Idaho entering Stage 3 of the Idaho Rebounds plan. The conference will be streamed live to the public through Idaho Public Television or online by clicking here.

Two female Idaho State University cross-country runners filed court documents May 26 asking a federal judge to uphold Idaho’s ban on transgender women in female sports. ISU students Madison Kenyon, 19 and Mary Marshall, 20 filed court documents asking to join the lawsuit over the transgender athletics ban. Both students claim they have unfairly lost to a transgender female runner. Idaho became the first state to ban transgender female athletes in women’s sports in March when Gov. Brad Little signed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. The Idaho ACLU and Legal Voice filed a lawsuit in April on behalf of Lindsay Hecox, 19, a transgender Boise State University student and a 17-year-old unnamed transgender Boise High School student. Both students identify as female.

Idaho has widened eligibility for coronavirus grants, opening up the application process for self-employed individuals and independent contractors. The grants are intended to provide emergency funding for businesses that haven’t accessed other federal coronavirus programs. Gov. Brad Little set aside $300 million of the $1.25 billion Idaho received from the CARES Act approved by Congress in March to help small businesses. More than 4,400 companies have applied for the $10,000 grants so far, according to state budget director Alex Adams. About 3,400 have been approved so far. The grants are available for small businesses with as many as 50 employees, subject to certain conditions. Specific requirements can be found online at

Dozens of employees at a meatpacking plant in southwestern Idaho have tested positive for COVID-19, Idaho health officials confirmed May 26. The South Central Public Health District said 44 employees at Ida-Beef in Burley, Idaho tested positive. No workers have been hospitalized and there are as yet no fatalities linked to the outbreak. The plant temporarily shut down operations, despite an order by President Donald Trump in April requiring meat processing plants to stay open amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a slaughterhouse and Trump mandated that the slaughterhouses stay open, but we choice to close ours to get everybody healthy,” said Ida-Beef CEO Allan Ward. “We thought we’d give it 10 days plus the long weekend and get everybody healthy. And we’re hoping to get a good crew coming Monday morning to kill cattle.” 

Ida-Beef is the second food processing plant in southwestern Idaho hit with an outbreak in recent days. At least 50 employees of potato produces company Rite Stuff Foods in Jerome, Idaho tested positive last week.


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