Thursday, August 13, 2020
Sun Valley Mandates Face Masks as Idaho Pauses on Reopening Plan
Lift operators at Sun Valley Resort are fully masked to greet visitors.
Friday, July 10, 2020


The city of Sun Valley has become the latest city to issue an emergency public health order requiring facial coverings in public places.

The order came as Idaho reported 459 new cases—its second highest single-day number of cases since the pandemic began sweeping across the state in mid-March. (Blaine County reported two new cases for a total of 546).

Three new deaths were reported in Ada and Canyon counties, taking the state across the hundred mark to 101 fatalities.

Paul Ries added 459 new Idaho cases to The Coronavirus Curve on Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 9,428. Blaine County had two new cases for 546, and Twin Falls County 32 new cases (their second worst day ever) for a total of 788.

And it came as Idaho’s governor paused his reopening plan for the second time in a row because of the surge of cases.

The Sun Valley City Council passed the ordinance Thursday evening. The mandate noted that citizens and visitors of Sun Valley and other jurisdictions in the Wood River Valley have been vigilant and following standards asked them in regard to wearing facial coverings and maintaining social distancing—all of which contributed to flattening the curve after the Wood River Valley was hit hard by the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic.

Face coverings could help protect residents and visitors as the Wood River Valley experiences a large influx of tourists who could be seeking relief and refuge from other areas who are currently hot spots, the mandate noted.

Children under 5 are exempted, as are those with a medical or mental health condition that prevents wearing a face covering. People who are communicating with the hearing-impaired are exempted. So are people engaged in indoor exercise, recreating outdoors, at outdoor public gatherings and eating or drinking at a restaurant, provided they can socially distance.

Violators will be guilty of an infraction, punishable by a fine of $100.

Hailey and Ketchum have already mandated that masks be worn in public, as have Boise, McCall, Driggs and Moscow. And the Central District Health is considering making masks mandatory in Ada County where Boise is located and in Valley County where many Treasure Valley residents head to play at Lake Cascade and Payette Lake.

Idaho will remain in Stage Four of its reopening plan and Ada County will remain in Stage Three as coronavirus cases continue to climb in the Gem State.

This is the second two-week period in which the state has failed to exit Little’s Idaho Rebounds plan.

And with good reason.

The 14-day average of new cases per day has increased from 85.9 during the last two-week reporting period to 299.7 during this period. The number of coronavirus cases in the stage has more than doubled from 4,100 on June 25 to 9,428 today.

Idaho’s percent positivity—the percentage of people who are tested and found to be positive—has  doubled  from 5.12 percent to 10.8 percent. Generally, health officials consider a positive rate higher than 10 percent a sign that the coronavirus spread is out of control.

The state is averaging 18 emergency visits a day. That’s 62 percent higher than the previous 14 days. But it’s averaging just under one emergency admission a day, compared with 1.14 emergency admissions the previous two weeks.

The state currently has an adequate supply of ventilators, intensive care beds and personal protective equipment.  Statewide there are a hundred intensive care unit beds and 400 ventilators available.

But officials at St. Luke’s Boise and Saint Alphonsus have expressed alarm at the number of COVID-19 patients being admitted to their hospitals. And those at Saint Alphonsus are again asking people who are asymptomatic or who have only mild symptoms to not seek testing because labs are becoming overwhelmed.


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