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Ketchum Legislator’s Request for COVID Safety Protocols Rebuffed
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Rep. Muffy Davis addressed a Women’s March in January 2020 at Ketchum Town Square.
 
 
Saturday, January 16, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

The Idaho Legislature apparently needs a dose of Ketchum’s “Do Your Part, Be Kind” campaign, encouraging people to give one another a break during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Idaho House voted 49-11 Friday to reject a request from Rep. Muffy Davis of Ketchum to allow her and others with compromised health to participate remotely during the coronavirus. Davis said that she is at increased risk because she uses a wheelchair and the moisture emitted by those who talk without masks drops downward.

Davis had told The Eye that she would happily participate from an office on the Capitol grounds or from her hotel a few blocks down the street. Either would allow her to make fast tracks to the Capitol Building when needed, she said.

She also said that she and others should be required to be visible on screen to fellow lawmakers when voting.

But Rep. Brent Crane, among those voting against her request, said remote participation could be hampered by potential technical problems, according to the Associated Press.

“I am incredibly saddened by the lack of compassion, by the lack of empathy shown by my Republican colleagues,” said Davis, whose lungs have been compromised since she was paralyzed in a ski accident years ago. “COVID-19 is a serious threat to my health. I want to do this job and work safely. But those across the aisle don’t seem to recognize that. A person’s health and welfare shouldn’t be partisan.”

Davis and Rep. Sue Chew, who has diabetes and hypertension, have filed a lawsuit requesting temporary COVID-related accommodations to protect themselves and others. A judge nixed their request this week for accommodations while the lawsuit is pending.

A representative said those at the Statehouse are acting as if there is no pandemic that has claimed the lives of 1,600 Idahoans and sickened more than 154,000.

Face masks, which have been proven scientifically to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19, are not mandatory, even though the city in which the Statehouse sits has a mask mandate. Some but not all legislators use plexiglass barriers at their desks. The Idaho legislature also rejected a proposal to postpone the legislative session until legislators have had a chance to get vaccines.

The legislature did expand audio and video capabilities in committee rooms to allow for virtual testimony. But it will be up to committee chairmen to approve who gets to testify virtually.

Nationwide COVID has already claimed the lives of a few state legislators and a Congressman-elect.

PROPOSAL TO SHELF COVID ATTENDANCE LIMITS DRAWS SCORN

Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, has introduced legislation seeking to allow unlimited attendance at events, despite the risk of COVID spread. Currently, events are limited to 10 people because of the risk of spreading COVID when too many people are packed together.

Crane is particularly targeting school basketball games and concerts.

Dr. David Pate, a member of the Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force, was none too pleased.

“This is just what we need,” he tweeted. “ ‘Infinity’ people huddled together as a new more contagious strain spreads.”

 

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