Recently, the Central District Health met and voted to require masks in Valley County.
Valley County will be the latest county to go under a mandatory mask order. There are a number of cities and counties across Idaho which are under mandatory mask orders in public when social distancing cannot be followed.
However, it is another decision by the Central District health that is causing more controversy and confusion among some citizens.
The board voted 6-1 to restrict private gatherings, even on personal property, to less than ten people.
Rep. Megan Blanksma (Republican – Hammett) was the lone dissenting vote on the order.
The order says that no more than ten people may gather together for the purposes of “relaxation.” The board argued that they wanted to do this in order to limit how many people were exposed to Coronavirus.
According to the board, citizens cannot purposefully meet up with more than ten people but more than ten people can be at a business at the same time.
Blanksma asked a question to the board about social gatherings.
She asked the board if she were to take 20 kids for a birthday party to a movie theater if that was okay, but if that same birthday party were to take place at home then it would not be okay.
Russell Duke, the Central Health District Director said that it would not be okay under either of those circumstances.
Duke said that any gathering on public or private property where more than 10 people are purposefully gathering together would be prohibited.
In other words, if several thousand people are at Roaring Springs Water Park but none of them are there together as a group bigger than ten, that would be okay.
However, if two families were to meet deliberately at Roaring Springs, that would be a violation of the order.
Enforcement of these orders is also something many people had questions about. Diana Lachiondo, Ada County Commissioner (Democrat), said about enforcement of the orders,
It’s not as if our sheriff’s deputies or police officers are going to be driving around and checking in on backyard barbeques. That’s obviously not going to happen. But I think it sends a message to the community that this is a high-risk environment.
Lachiondo also said that they were preparing a funeral for someone and while they would all be together for the funeral, they said that there are no plans to meet afterward. So, the family and those at the funeral would meet but then no social gathering for a luncheon afterward would happen.
The board also discussed gyms during the meeting and felt at this time that gyms were not a problem and they said during the meeting they were not seeing cases come out of gyms. Social gatherings like weddings, barbeques, and birthday parties are the problem and the reason for their order.
Despite what the board said is a lack of increase in COVID cases in Ada County, they felt that they were not seeing a big enough decrease and they wanted to see more of a decrease and they hope their order will help do that.
Finally, there was discussion about whether the board would ban gatherings of 25 or more people or go with the stricter amount of ten people.
Board member Jane Young, a Family Nurse Practitioner, asked the board whether there was any scientific data to support doing ten versus 25 people.
Director Duke responded to that question by saying,
There isn’t really good data on that. Obviously, if you’re around more people, as you know, there’s more likely that transmission to occur.
It remains to be seen what impact if any, this order will take.
Several lawmakers in recent days have started speaking out against district health decision making. A number of lawmakers have been discussing stripping district health boards of any power they have to make these decisions.
Do you believe social gatherings of ten or more people is okay to prohibit or do you believe the board has overstepped its bounds?
Let us know in the comments below.
Tags: Ada County, Central District Health, Diana Lachiondo, Megan Blanksma, Russell Duke, Social Gatherings