COVID-19 Warriors

Companies and people keeping business alive

Published online: Sep 21, 2020 Articles, East Idaho Health Emily FitzPatrick
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As news of COVID-19 continues to rattle our news feeds, many of us are feeling drained. It can feel nearly impossible to find the good news during a worldwide pandemic. We’ve been relatively lucky in Eastern Idaho compared to other parts of the nation, but that doesn’t halt the general worry many feel as they watch the impact this infectious disease has on the lives of family members and friends.

What can bring comfort to all is that our community is banding together to provide needed services during a time where some have gone without pay or faced a much higher workload. Despite the obstacles presented by Covid-19, many local people and businesses have willingly pulled their time and resources together. This list is only a small compilation of community members that have made a difference. 

The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce

Two months. That’s how long CEO Chip Schwarze furloughed himself in order to keep his staff paid at the Chamber. All the while, he and his staff continued working so that they could support businesses when they needed it most. 

The Chamber not only continued with its normal responsibilities, but also worked to help other businesses stay informed and received the help they sorely needed without tourism revenue and with many people staying home in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Museum of Idaho

Adjusting to extensive changes is something all businesses were forced to undergo when the beginning of the storm that is COVID-19 began to hit Idaho Falls. Museum of Idaho was one of many businesses that not only quickly moved to comply with CDC and state guidelines, but also went above and beyond in providing services to the community. 

“We specifically wanted to have a time during the day when the vulnerable populations could come to the museum and know that people were masked and they were safe,” said Executive Director, Karen Baker. “We’re seeing that masks really are the best protection that we have right now and so we wanted to make sure that was available.”

Bank of Idaho

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Bank of Idaho has managed to flow through over three years’ worth of loan volume in just two months, including the approval of more than 1,200 loans through the Paycheck Protection Program to keep small business owners’ doors open. 

During that same time, Bank of Idaho partnered with Eastern Idaho organizations like Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Cooper Norman, Voigt Consulting, the CHC Foundation, the Idaho Falls Chinese Community and countless nonprofit leaders to establish the Community Commitment Fund. The fund has granted more than $75,000 for emergency needs and operations. 

With the partnership of Bank of Commerce and Teton Wealth Advisors, the bank was able to secure over 3,000 KN95 masks during the initial onset of the pandemic and delivered most of them to Mountain View Hospital, Community Food Basket and Development Workshop, among others.

 

Fort Hall

The Fort Hall COVID-19 Relief Fund started by Duke Perry has provided meals for many that would have gone without as business slid to a halt, putting many in dire financial situations. Tamara Trahant worked alongside Perry, calling and collecting funds. 

“It’s a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of commitment, but the return is so amazing just seeing these people taken care of and knowing that  there was enough provided that we kept the numbers down low by keeping people home and giving them the necessary elements to keep them there.”

Idaho National Laboratory

INL collected financial and protective equipment donations. With the leadership of Chen Li, the group donated thousands of dollars in protective equipment to EIRMC and an equal financial donation to the East Idaho Community Fund. 

Battelle Energy Alliance, operator of INL, also provided $60,000 to help fight food insecurity in our region through the INL Cares program. The Idaho Falls Community Food Basket received $40,000 and the Idaho Food Bank in Pocatello received $20,000 of this donation.

Eastern Idaho Public Health

Eastern Idaho Public Health has worked to provide accurate information during the pandemic and also provide plans for local businesses and general members of the public, providing insights into what everyone can do locally to stay safe. 

“Education is a big part of what we do,” said Geri Rackow. “Preventing illness is our mission and as such, we’re trying to provide individuals with information and education that they can use to help guide their decisions. That’s the core of public health.”

Increased fears stemming from false narratives on social media has increased the staff of Eastern Public Health’s attention to educating with simple information from verifiable resources, which everyone can access through their website. 

Most importantly, the staff works to spread the message that they are always present to help with any questions locals may have about how to move forward, whether they are looking for ways to prevent the spread or what to do if an employee of their businesses suffers from COVID-19. For more information visit www.eiph.idaho.gov.

 

Click here to read more of the September issue of Idaho Falls Magazine.

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