BYU-Idaho says it will seek out and possibly expel students who may have intentionally tried to be infected with the coronavirus.

An Idaho college says it is “deeply troubled” by reports that people in its community may have intentionally exposed themselves to the coronavirus in the hopes of being paid more for plasma donations that could contain COVID-19 antibodies.

BYU-Idaho, located in the southeastern town of Rexburg, says it is actively searching to find out if any of its students have done this.

“Students who are determined to have intentionally exposed themselves or others to the virus will be immediately suspended from the university and may be permanently dismissed,” the university said in a statement.

Some private blood banks pay more for plasma that contains COVID-19 antibodies.

The university cautioned last month that it may have to shut down the campus and switch to an all-remote learning format if a recent upward trend of COVID-19 cases in Idaho and Madison County continue. 

The university says it realizes that the pandemic ls leading to strains on the community, including financial.

“There is never a need to resort to behavior that endangers health or safety in order to make ends meet,” the university said, offering contact information for student resources.

Idaho currently ranks sixth in the country for new cases per capita, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, with more than 48,660 total confirmed cases of coronavirus statewide. So far more than 500 Idaho residents have died because of COVID-19.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article

By REBECCA BOONE, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A U.S. judge says the IRS can’t keep withholding coronavirus relief payments from incarcerated people, potentially clearing the way for at least 80,000 checks totaling more than $100 million to be sent to people behind bars across the United States.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton late last month gives the IRS until Oct. 24 to reconsider the payments for those who were denied or had their money intercepted solely because of their incarceration. But for those behind bars who didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, another deadline is looming — they have until Oct. 15 to send a written application for the relief checks, or they may not receive them at all.

The federal agencies have filed a “protective appeal” to the 9th U.S. Circuit — which appears to be a placeholder of sorts designed to give officials time to decide if they’ll fight the ruling.

“The decision whether to proceed with the appeal will be made by the acting solicitor general, who has not yet made a decision,” U.S. Department of Justice tax attorney Julie Ciamporcero Avetta wrote in a court filing on Monday.

The legislation passed in March that authorized the payments of up to $1,200 per person during the pandemic doesn’t specifically exclude jail or prison inmates. Still, that’s exactly the claim that the IRS made a couple of weeks after the coronavirus rescue package passed.

On its website, the federal tax agency added a section that cited the unrelated Social Security Act in claiming that incarcerated people were not entitled to the funds. The IRS and U.S. Treasury Department also told corrections officials to intercept any checks that arrived at jails, prisons or detention facilities and return them to the