BOISE — The U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho on Tuesday warned Idaho residents about an increase in internet scams his office has noticed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bart Davis urged participants in the weekly AARP-sponsored town hall to protect their personal information as they move their lives online to avoid exposure to COVID-19. In particular, Davis warned of romance scams targeting people 55 and older. Hackers will pose online as a person interested in a romantic relationship and leverage that relationship to draw money or information out of their victim.
“(Scammers) are so sophisticated they are able to reach out and take advantage of people, especially children and the elderly,” Davis warned.
AARP sponsors multiple town halls a month, which are held over the phone. During the calls, Idaho residents ask a question directly of Gov. Brad Little and Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen.
There was no shortage of questions from callers Tuesday, and not everyone who called in was supportive of continued measures to slow the virus’ spread. One woman claimed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recently revised its estimates for the number of people who have died from COVID-19, the disease the novel coronavirus causes. The woman asked Little why the government wouldn’t open society up to its fullest once again, if the virus was less dangerous than initially thought.
That prompted Little to explain comorbidity — the term used to describe an underlying condition. What the CDC had done, he explained, was simply release the number of people who died from COVID-19 who also had an underlying condition. Of the people who have died from COVID-19 across the country so far, 94% had a comorbidity, according to a report from the agency.
Little stressed that an estimated third of Idahoans have an underlying condition that could make recovering from COVID-19 difficult. He made that point more than once throughout the call when responding to callers expressing some skepticism about the seriousness of the virus.
“The problem is the third of the population that has underlying issues,” Little said.
There is also the challenge of health care and long-term care workers who mingle with the general population and could be bringing the virus into facilities.
Jeppesen said of the 361 deaths Idaho counted as of Monday night, 205 were people who lived in long-term care facilities. To that end, Jeppesen also noted the $13 million the state is earmarking to ensure routine testing for employees of long-term care facilities. Some facilities may be better prepared than others, he said.
“We’ve got 400 long-term care facilities in Idaho and some of them are a lot better suited to allow friends and family to come in than others,” he said.
He also noted that while the state’s positivity rate of coronavirus testing is below 10% for the first time in months, admissions to intensive care units due to the virus continue to rise. As of Monday, 379 cases have been admitted to intensive care units across the state since the start of the pandemic.
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