Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Hailey Tightens COVID Restrictions as Idaho Remains in Stage 4
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Carrie Morrow demonstrated her new look for winter bundled up in stocking cap, scarf and face mask during a Wood River Women’s Foundation gathering on Wednesday.
   
Friday, October 16, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

The City of Hailey has adopted a new public health order strengthening mask requirements, limiting the size of groups and requiring six feet of physical distance between people within businesses to quell a surge in coronavirus cases.

Blaine County has seen more than 85 new cases in the past two weeks, and Hailey has led the valley, with Bellevue following behind. The county has 32.9 cases per 100,000 population and the county rates in the critical red zone of the Harvard Global Health Institute, meaning the county is at the tipping point for uncontrolled spread that could warrant issuing a stay-home order.

City council members voted unanimously to enact the order, saying they needed to act because rising COVID-19 cases are threatening the capacity of southern Idaho medical facilities to treat patients.

“Please know, and let each of your employees know, that the efforts conducted within local businesses and non-profits to keep customers and employees safe has been highly appreciated,” Hailey Mayor Martha Burke wrote to the owners of Hailey businesses and nonprofit organizations. “Please be nimble and cooperative with future changes that are sure to occur.”

The city’s move came as Gov. Brad Little announced that Idaho would remain in Stage 4 of its reopening plan for another two weeks due to record-high numbers of coronavirus infections.

The state recorded a new high of 714 confirmed cases and 798 confirmed and probable cases on Tuesday as the seven-day average rose to 627.7. This is the ninth time Idaho has failed to exit Stage 4.

The governor encouraged Idahoans to practice social distancing and wear a mask but did not enact a statewide mask mandate.

“Our personal actions are better to slow the spread of coronavirus than anything else,” he said. “Our personal actions determine whether we, as Idahoans, succeed or fail in protecting our neighbors or our economy during this pandemic.”

One of the state’s hot spots is Madison County, home to BYU-Idaho in Rexburg. The county has reported an average of 181 cases for every 100,000 during the past week. That’s up from 20 a month ago. And this week it has tallied 258 cases—more than even Ada County.

The county’s two hospitals are near capacity with too few beds some days and too few workers others.

The spike prompted an intensive care specialist at Eastern Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls to write an op-ed warning that the county’s death rate will increase as young people spread cases to their elders.

“I find it perplexing that the age group who lead the way in other areas of social responsibility, such as climate change and equality for all individuals…can be so cavalier…about protecting the most vulnerable among us,” he wrote.

Hailey’s new order went into effect this week, even as the city and businesses cancelled the annual Halloween Hoopla. Violaters risk an infraction, punishable by a $100 fine:

  • Face masks or face shields must be worn by all people occupying a public space with another person, subject to limited exceptions. Exemptions include persons with a documented disability and people who are eating or drinking. Face shields are urged for those who are not able to wear face masks, and children under the age of five are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings.
  • Hand washing/sanitizing must be available and used at entrances to each business.
  • A minimum of 6 feet must be maintained between people within the same room in all businesses, which will limit the room occupancy to a maximum of 1 person for each 64 square feet of room space. There are no exceptions to this requirement.
  • Indoor group sizes may not exceed 10 people, unless one of the exemptions applies. Schools, for instance, are exempted, as are grocery stores, healthcare facilities and households where more than 10 people permanently reside together.
  • Outdoor group sizes may not exceed 50 people, unless one of the exemptions applies.
  • All businesses are required to post signage at each entrance in English and Spanish, which states that face coverings and hand washing/sanitization are required to enter and 6-foot distancing must be maintained within each business. There are no exceptions to the signage requirement.
  • Businesses are prohibited from serving customers who do not comply with face-coverings and distancing regulations, with penalties resulting in business closure when businesses are non-compliant.

To see the order, go to www.haileycityhall.org.

 

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