Idaho’s virus cases reach 5, gov declines to close schools but several districts close anyway

The dome of the Idaho Statehouse looms over the snowcovered foothills in Idaho's capitol city of Boise in this undated photo. (AP Photo/Troy Maben).

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Gov. Brad Little declined to order a statewide closure of schools on Sunday, instead telling school leaders that the decision on whether to close to slow the spread of coronavirus should be made locally.

Little announced the decision in a conference call with school leaders a few hours after the Idaho Education Association teacher’s union urged the governor to close schools statewide for at least three weeks.

On Saturday night state health officials said there are now five Idaho residents confirmed to have the virus, including two in Ada County, two in south-central Idaho and one in eastern Idaho’s Teton County.

Several school districts and daycare centers across Idaho have closed in efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. On Monday morning, there were five confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the illness caused by the new coronavirus — spread across the southern half of the state.

Gov. Brad Little told school districts on Sunday that the choice to close should be made locally, and Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said he would prefer that schools remain open. Still, several districts made the decision to close, including the Boise, Coeur d’Alene, Twin Falls, Nampa, Cassia, Lewiston and West Ada districts.

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