Eighty-three percent of Idaho businesses reported a decrease in revenue because of COVID-19. Of the 83 percent of businesses, 41 percent reported a decline of more than 75 percent in revenue, according to an April survey conducted by the Idaho Department of Commerce in partnership with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.
The Idaho Business Impact Survey showed 51 percent of businesses reported a decrease in employment. Of the 51 percent of businesses, 75 percent reported having to reduce employment by more than 75 percent.
The survey findings can be found at commerce.idaho.gov/covid-19-impact-survey/.
“We all kind of know the major impacts,” said Matt Borud, marketing and innovation administrator at Idaho Commerce. “We’ve all certainly heard it or we’re living it.”
Borud discussed the impact the coronavirus has had on Idaho businesses and what Idaho Commerce is doing to help businesses during a Zoom meeting Wednesday hosted by the Moscow Chamber of Commerce.
Idaho Fifth District legislators also provided updates on how the state is tackling the virus. Borud said more than 26,000 Idaho businesses have received more than $2.57 billion after the first two rounds of the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
“Hopefully this aid is reaching Idaho businesses and reaching our communities in a way that is meaningful and will be helpful for them as they continue to rebound and go forward,” Borud said.
He said Idaho businesses with as many as 50 employees can apply for the Idaho Rebound cash grants program for small businesses as of Monday.
Self-employed individuals economically impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible to receive as much as $7,500 in cash support through the program, according to a news release Monday from Gov. Brad Little’s office. The application cycle for self-employed individuals will start Wednesday. Information on how to apply for the Idaho Rebound cash grants is available at rebound.idaho.gov/idaho-rebound-cash-grants-for-small-businesses/.
Applications for the cash grants started arriving May 11 for businesses with one to 19 employees. To date, the state has approved or issued more than 2,600 applications for a total of about $26 million in grants, the release said.
Rep. Caroline Troy, R-Genesee, provided updates on coronavirus testing, contact tracing and unemployment insurance benefits. Troy and Rep. Bill Goesling, R-Moscow, were part of a phone conference with Little Wednesday morning.
Troy said Idaho testing laboratories can run 200 tests per day — a huge increase from the 16 tests per week capability at the start of the pandemic.
“Testing has come a long way since we first started down the COVID trail,” Troy said.
She said the tests are focused on areas experiencing outbreaks.
Troy said there are 47 sites in Idaho that can conduct a combined 15,000 tests per day.
Hospitals and pharmacies have ramped up testing and Walmart will roll out testing soon, too, she said.
Troy said more than 200 people in the state are trained in contact tracing — up from 125 last week — and the goal is to train 250.
With contact tracing, public health staff work with a patient to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact during the timeframe while they may have been infectious, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Staff then warns the exposed individuals or contacts of their potential exposure as rapidly and sensitively as possible.
To protect patient privacy, contacts are informed only that they may have been exposed to a patient with the infection. They are not told the identity of the patient who may have exposed them, the CDC website says.
Troy said she has received several phone calls from constituents who are frustrated, and likely scared, about the slow response for unemployment insurance benefits from the Idaho Department of Labor.
She said Idaho has laws that demand the highest level of integrity and standards about how residents receive the benefits.
“Everything is double-checked so that slows things down,” Troy said.
She said a consultant is working with the department to try to find ways to quicken the processing of claims.
Sen. David Nelson, D-Moscow, who serves on Little’s Economic Rebound Advisory Committee, said Phase 2 of the three-phase committee recommendations will be finalized next week. He said the second phase is significantly focused on tourism, nonprofits and industries that depend on scheduling events during the summer.
Nelson said the committee is also making sure guidelines for businesses are easy, quick and consistent as they start to rebound.
Goesling described how some of the $1.25 billion Idaho received from the federal government for coronavirus-related costs are being spent.
He said $44 million was allocated to counties, including $991,000 to Latah County, and $42 million was directed to cities, including $887,100 to Moscow.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to email@example.com.