Idaho Dispatch

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Panhandle Health District Passes Mask Mandate, Southwest District Does Not

By • July 28, 2020

Another health district in Idaho has passed a mask mandate.

Currently, the East Idaho Health District and the Central Health District have passed mandates.

This means that Bonneville County, Teton County, Ada County, Valley County, Elmore County, and Boise county are all under a mask mandate.

Now, the Panhandle Health District has passed a mask mandate but it only applies to Kootenai County.

Inside the building, only a handful of people were able to fit in the socially distanced room.

However, on the outside of the building, hundreds of people protested the board’s decision. Many of the individuals were not social distancing or wearing masks and wanted the board to know they were not going to comply with the mandate.

Brent Regan, the Republican Kootenai County Chairman had this to say about the board’s decision,

During the Panhandle Health District meeting on Thursday, Jeremy Evans, Vice President of Kootenai Health made an unbelievable claim to the PHD directors. Kootenai Health has 3,500 employees of which 45 have contracted COVID-19. This is 3X the panhandle wide rate. Kootenai says NONE of the 45 are work related and ALL are due to community spread. Either he was lying or Kootenai Health employees are so poorly informed about health protocols that Kootenai Health shouldn’t be giving anyone advice on slowing the spread of the virus.

What PHD neglected to observe is Idaho Code § 39-416(2), which requires that “every rule or standard adopted, amended, or rescinded by the district board shall be done in a manner conforming to the provisions of chapter 52, title 67, Idaho Code (the Administrative Procedures Act).

PHD says they are concerned about deaths and yet they are doing NOTHING to protect the known “at risk” individuals. Are they reviewing procedures and policies at elder care facilities? No. Are they ensuring staff has adequate training? No. Are they making PPE available to low / fixed income elderly? No.

What about people who have recovered from COVID, have immunity and are not contagious; do they have to wear masks too?

Ed Reillo who was outside with the crowd said the crowd was very energetic and the vast majority were there to oppose mandatory masks.

Further south, the Southwest Health District finally met to discuss their recommendations for citizens within the district.

Adams, Payette, Canyon, Washington, Gem, and Owyhee counties make up the Southwest Health District.

The meeting had been rescheduled several times over security concerns board members said. The board had the meeting moved to inside the Canyon County Courthouse.

It was a meeting with a number of vocal interruptions from some in the crowd.

Eventually, the board voted to recommend the wearing of masks. Even this vote drew boos from the crowd, most of whom were opposed to the advisory vote.

Board member and Adams County Commissioner Viki Purdy was the only one to vote against the mask recommendations.

Her vote against the board’s recommendations drew applause from the crowd.

Commissioner Purdy was cut off several times by Bryan Elliot, Chair of the SWDH Board, for trying to discuss mask mandates. The board told her they were only considering recommendations and if she used the word mandate again she would not be called on anymore during the meeting.

We asked Commissioner Purdy why she voted against the recommendations and she did not respond to our inquiry.

The Canyon County Commissioners said they were supportive of the recommendations that passed.

They released a statement the said,

We support SWDH’s decision to not create an unenforceable, general public mandate that might compromise law enforcement relations with the public,” the statement said. “Our economy, our schools, our way of life depend on limiting the transmission of the virus, and we are individually committed to doing our part. Working together, we will get through this.

The concern for putting law enforcement officers in a tough situation has been brought up by a number of government officials across Idaho.

Board member Sam Summers also voted for the recommendations and had to speak loudly over a crowd of boos. What prompted the boos?

Mr. Summers said during his time,

I think we’ve had a wonderful experiment already with this: When COVID first came and it hit New York and the government got shut down and we had social distancing etcetera, the rate of COVID dropped dramatically. As we started to release, the COVID rates have gone up dramatically.

The other board members, minus Purdy, agreed with Summers.

In the end, they all voted for the recommendations despite the large crowd in attendance who were mostly opposed.

What do you think of mask mandates? Are you in favor of or against them?

Let us know in the comments below.


Tags: Brent Regan, Coronavirus, Mask Mandate, Panhandle Health District, Southwest Health District, Viki Purdy

2 thoughts on “Panhandle Health District Passes Mask Mandate, Southwest District Does Not

  1. No more masks. Stop this lunacy. Since this covid started I’ve flown to LA, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Kansas City, Houston and driven to many more..I’m still quite alive without a mask.

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