Regional COVID-19 Pandemic Weekly Update – April 17, 2020

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has created unprecedented disruptions to the economy. Each week in March brought news and developments that were historic and overshadowed the previous week’s developments. It has been impossible to keep up with the magnitude and volume of the economic impact affecting Idaho and its regions.

To document this event in Idaho, and the changes our state is experiencing from week to week, the Idaho Department of Labor is providing a weekly update. Pertinent events and data as it becomes available will be provided for each region in Idaho, the state as a whole and the context of the national economy.

Statewide COVID-related updates

Regional COVID-19-related updates
Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern Idaho
Eastern Idaho

Statewide COVID-19-related updates

  • As of April 15, Idaho’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 had increased to 1,507, a 13.4 percent increase over the prior week. This marks a significant decrease from the growth rate the previous week, when confirmed cases nearly doubled. Source:
  • Initial unemployment claims remained elevated in the week ending April 11, with a total of 18,531 claims filed. This marks a decrease of roughly 40 percent from the previous week, when more than 30,000 claims were filed. A total of 95,961 claims have been filed in the four weeks since Idaho’s state of emergency was declared, which is 60 percent more than the number of claims filed in all of 2019.

Idaho Department of Labor 

Regional COVID-19-related updates

Northern Idaho

  • Cases of COVID-19 total 53 in northern Idaho as of April 16, with 49 in Kootenai County and four in Bonner County. This marks an increase of seven cases for northern Idaho from the previous week. Source:
  • Initial unemployment insurance claims in northern Idaho totaled 1,368 in the week ending April 11. This marks a decrease of 53 percent from the previous week, when 2,887 claims were filed. A total of 9,477 initial claims have been filed in the four weeks since Idaho’s state of emergency was declared, and 68 percent of the initial claims in the past week were filed in Kootenai County., regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext 4451

North Central Idaho

  • Another 524 north central Idaho residents filed new unemployment insurance claims in the week ending April 11. That’s roughly five times higher than before the COVID-19 lockdown. In the four weeks since the coronavirus began taking a toll on the region, 2,815 initial claims were filed. That’s approximately 5.3 percent of residents who were employed in the region before COVID-19. In addition, many of those who remain employed are working fewer hours or have seen tips and bonuses dry up.
  • The region’s nonessential businesses — retail (except groceries, pharmacies, building materials stores, gasoline stations, and auto parts stores) hotels, motels, restaurants, bars, fitness studios, amusement and recreation facilities, dental offices and other elective medical services, personal care services such as hair and nail care — are shut down or offering limited service. Hundreds of businesses are wondering how long they can survive with no revenue or significantly reduced revenue.

  • COVID-19 has slowed the development of the region’s growing wine industry. Social distancing has closed tasting rooms, and the virtual shutdown of tourism is reducing the wineries’ opportunities to introduce their products to potential new buyers. To stay in contact with customers, most are offering curbside pickup or shipping. Jovinea Cellars in Lewiston created a virtual community event. It is giving its wine club members a free bottle of wine if they post a photo or video review on social media. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The Lewis-Clark Valley Healthcare Foundation increased its grants to nonprofits struggling to cope with problems caused by the pandemic. The foundation doubled awards to $10,000 to help nonprofit organizations in nine counties of Idaho, Washington and Oregon. Many nonprofits have been forced to give up fundraising events — such as fun runs, galas and auctions — at a time when the need for services has grown. Among the groups eligible for grants are food banks, meal delivery programs, transportation services, nonprofit child care providers and others that support the foundation’s mission of promoting health, wellness and disease prevention. Applications can be submitted online at Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Idaho outfitters and guides have seen trips plummet in the past few weeks as fewer tourists arrived, social distancing concerns made guided trips more complicated and the state placed a moratorium on some out-of-state hunting and fishing licenses. In addition, some potential customers are reluctant to book trips even for the summer and fall, because of uncertainty about how long social distancing might be required. Fewer guided tours means less spending by visitors at hotels, restaurants and stores in communities such as Orofino, Riggins, Kamiah and Lewiston. Source: Idaho Statesman
  •  The Federal Aviation Administration announced April 14 that 36 Idaho airports will receive $44.2 million in CARES Act funds to help them cope with the coronavirus-caused slowdown in air traffic.. The funds will support continuing operations and replace some of the lost revenue from the decline in passenger traffic. The funds may be used for airport capital expenditures, airport operating expenses including payroll and utilities, and airport debt payments. The Lewiston – Nez Perce County Regional Airport will receive $1.2 million; the Orofino Municipal Airport will receive $20,000; the Kamiah Municipal Airport, $1,000; and the Idaho County Airport, $30,000. The Pullman-Moscow airport is among the Washington airports receiving CARES fund. It will receive $18 million. Source: Big Country News, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 799-5000 ext. 3984

Southwestern Idaho

  • Initial unemployment claims in the region decreased 45 percent in second week of April after rising 89 percent the previous week. Claims dropped to 4,075 the week ending April 11 after increasing to 9,638 the week ending March 28, a record high.
  • With a total of 21,067 initial claims over the past two weeks, roughly 3.5 percent of the adult population in southwestern Idaho has filed for unemployment since March 22.
  • Seventy percent of the unemployment claims in southwestern Idaho have been from Ada County, although the county accounts for only 60 percent of the adult population in the region. Southwestern Idaho accounted for 22 percent of the statewide initial unemployment claims the week ending April 11, down from 24 percent the week ending April 4 and 29 percent the week ending March 28.
  • Data for Ada, Canyon and Owyhee counties indicates that the number of men and women filing initial claims is evenly split. Payette reported more men than women have filed, and the remaining six counties report more women have filed. The percent of women filing since March 28 has decreased from 62 percent to 54 percent in the region while the percent of men has increased from 38 percent to 46 percent. There appeared to be a shift in the age range of claimants since the start of the pandemic-related initial claims. While the majority of claimants have been age 25 to 34, the most recent week, ending April 11, the majority of the claimants were age 45 to 54.
  • The two sectors hit the hardest have been accommodations and food services, and health care and social assistance. Nearly 30 percent of the initial claims filed in the last week were in these two industries. Most restaurants in the region have reduced staff and hours to the accommodate drive through or take-out per the governor’s stay-home order. Although hospitals are extremely busy, subsectors of the health care industry have temporarily closed – such as dentist offices – have reduced staff or transitioned to using telehealth. Although the number of claims are not as high as other industries, the construction industry in southwestern Idaho accounts for more than 40 percent of the statewide claims in this sector.
  • The top three occupations hit the hardest are food preparation and serving related, office and administrative support, and sales and related. Food Preparation and Serving Related experienced a decrease of nearly 1,200 workers in southwestern Idaho.

Source: Idaho Department of Labor, senior economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 332-3570 ext. 2330

South Central Idaho 


  • South central Idaho airports will receive around $20 million of an estimated $44.2 million provided by the CARES Act to compensate for losses associated with COVID-19 travel restrictions and to keep workers on payrolls.
    • Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey — $18,476,130
    • Joslin Field – Magic Valley Regional Airport in Twin Falls — $1,193,730
    • Burley Municipal Airport — $30,000
    • Gooding Municipal Airport — $30,000
    • Jerome County Airport — $30,000
    • Buhl Municipal Airport — $20,000

Regionally, Jackpot/Hayden Field in Jackpot, Nevada, is set to receive $20,000.
Source: KMVT News

Blaine County

  • The Allen and Company Sun Valley Conference is canceled. This annual media finance conference usually books up all rooms, amenities and services for a week in July. The company donated $200,000 to the Hunger Coalition in Blaine County and $1 million for COVID-19 Response to the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Camp Rainbow Gold will go virtual with its summer camp for children with cancer and its families. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Sun Valley is the only community that opened up construction activity again after reduced cases of COVID-19 were reported by the central district health department. Blaine County, Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue all extended the shutdown of the county until April 20. These decisions were made before Gov. Brad Little announced an extension of the Stay-Home order to April 30. Source: Idaho Mountain Express

Twin Falls County

  • Twin Falls police officers are posting virtual ‘read alongs’ from children’s books. It is a form of community outreach to kids staying at home during this pandemic. The venues are varied– police cars, downtown and parks. This activity is a proxy for going into the library or classrooms. The public is encouraged to submit storybook choices. Source: KMVT News
  • Holesinsky Vineyard and Winery has converted some operations to making hand sanitizer like other wineries and distilleries throughout Idaho. However, Caitlin Holesinsky reported a definite uptick in bulk purchases of wine online, making up for the lack of restaurant sales and in-person purchases. She attributes this to intensified cooking and eating at home. In addition, there is an emphasis on buying local to keep community business viable. National reports cite alcoholic beverage sales rising 55 percent and 22 percent the last two weeks of March. Source: KMVT News, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 735-2500 ext 3639

Southeastern Idaho 


  • Southeastern Idaho residents have filed a record number of unemployment insurance claims in the four weeks starting March 15 and ending April 11, as the table below shows. The region has seen more than 10 times as many initial claims than were filed prior to the coronavirus economic crisis.

  • The sector hit the hardest by the coronavirus crisis was accommodation and food services, which accounted for roughly one in four claims filed in the week ending April 11. Health care and manufacturing ranked second and third in the highest number of regional claims filed that week. Source: Idaho Department of Labor
  • It is estimated that Idaho State University has already lost $3 million due to the cancellation of concerts, events and other revenue generators. Waning enrollment, state budget cuts and plummeting revenue have put the university on track for a projected $16 million deficit heading into the 2020-21 budget year. A hiring freeze has been put in place with a plan to eliminate 120 vacant positions or leave them unfilled. Source: Idaho Ed News, East Idaho News
  • The Pocatello-Chubbuck School District 25 Board of Trustees voted to continue remote learning for the district’s students for the rest of the school year as the coronavirus continues to impact Idaho. A decision will be made to determine if its traditional high school graduation ceremonies will be canceled by May 1. School District 25 will continue to offer grab-and-go lunches and breakfasts until further notice. Source: Idaho State Journal


  • Idaho State University has installed WiFi equipment in parking lots for the public to access the internet without charge. ISU has also reserved one of its living units for medical professionals who may need a place to stay if the coronavirus outbreak becomes extreme. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Superior Physical Therapy in Pocatello is participating in a national initiative for all doctors, nurses and health care professionals called PT FOR HEROES. The initiative provides free tele-physical therapy services to health care professionals and heroes on the front lines of COVID-19. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Bingham Academy has joined the growing list of Idaho educators creating personal protective equipment amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Blackfoot-based charter school’s two 3D printers have pumped out 20 face shields and 15 masks made of plastic in recent days. These parts are being shipped to Boise State University’s MakerLab, where they are assembled into protective gear for area health care professionals. The masks are being tested for use at Pocatello’s Portneuf Medical Center, with others going to Blackfoot’s Bingham Memorial Hospital. Source: East Idaho News, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331

Eastern Idaho – Week ending April 10


  • Eastern Idaho had 706 initial unemployment claims in the week ending April 4. This marks a 50 percent decrease over the prior week, although this number is still more than 10 times above normal levels. Roughly 65 percent of these claims have been in Bonneville County, the region’s largest county. The sector hit the hardest by the coronavirus crisis was accommodation and food services, which accounted for about one in five claims filed in the week ending April 11. Construction and health care ranked second and third in the highest number of county claims filed that week. Source: Idaho Department of Labor
  • A Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce survey of 200 CEOs and directors reflects how much the stay-at-home policy has affected the Teton County small business community. The majority of respondents were retail and lodging businesses, including vacation rental and property management companies. The results show:
      • 46.7 percent of businesses have laid off employees. The majority of those indicated they had no intent of rehiring.
      • 53 percent indicated they did not foresee a need to lay off additional employees within the next two months.
      • Almost 31 percent estimated their 2020 revenues would be decreased by 26 percent to 49 percent, and 26 percent indicated it was too early to tell.
      • Most (72.1 percent) are applying for help under the federal Payment Protection Plan, and 31.7 percent said they were applying for emergency injury disaster loans.
      • 72.1 percent have not negotiated to lower or defer rent, 27 percent have negotiated rent in some way, but of those, only 20 percent said they had been granted relief.

The Chamber said it planned to update the survey each month of the COVID-19 emergency. Source: KIDK

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation announced it will award more than $44 million in financial aid to 36 airports in Idaho, including the Idaho Falls Regional Airport. The regional airport, which is the second busiest airport in the state, will receive about $2.25 million of that total amount, which will help offset revenue lost because of the pandemic. The Rexburg-Madison County airport is expected to receive $30,000, and the Pocatello Regional Airport will receive $20,000. Source: East Idaho News, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331