While much of the country has seen COVID-19 coronavirus case counts considerably reduced as vaccines have become widely available during recent months, Idaho County has become a stronghold for the disease, with the known active case count having climbed back into the 70s — a total that had not been seen here since early February.
By mid-May, vaccine uptake here — reflected in the number fully vaccinated against the virus — had climbed to more than 3,300 of the approximately 13,000 total population. But during the two weeks since then, just 150 more were added to the tally of the vaccinated kept by state and local public health officials.
During that same time frame, the number of known open active COVID-19 cases here climbed from the mid-40s to 71 as of May 26. Four of those were listed as recovered later in the week, leaving the Public Health-Idaho North Central District count at 67 as of Friday, May 28. Mercifully, the toll of coronavirus deaths has remained unchanged here since early April, with 18 attributed to covid in Idaho County since the disease’s arrival here more than a year ago. The latest is online at idahopublichealth.com.
On May 27, Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin — acting as governor while the elected Gov. Brad Little was out of state — issued a surprise order that strips state and local government — including public schools — of the authority to require the wearing of masks in Idaho. She published her order through her Twitter account at 9:20 a.m. that day, designating it to go into effect at 11 a.m.
According to a report that morning by Idaho Education News, she did not inform the governor’s office about the order in advance.
Gov. Little confirmed that detail in a press release shortly before 10 a.m. Friday morning, May 28, which also said, in part, that McGeachin’s order replicated a bill that was “debated considerably in the legislature but failed.”
“Taking the earliest opportunity to act solitarily on a highly politicized, polarizing issue without conferring with local jurisdictions, legislators, and the sitting governor is, simply put, an abuse of power,” Little continued. “This kind of over-the-top executive action amounts to tyranny – something we all oppose. How ironic that the action comes from a person who has groused about tyranny, executive overreach, and balance of power for months.”