Health district faces major task

Governor Brad Little's plan to reopen Idaho asks health districts to approve plans submitted by businesses to demonstrate how they comply with CDC guidelines pertaining to coronavirus countermeasures.

As Idaho reopens amidst the coronavirus pandemic local health districts are tasked with approving operation plans for local businesses.

For its part, Panhandle Health District is tasked with approving the reopening plans of approximately 1,500 food establishments by May 16, when Stage 2 of the plan begins.

According to Panhandle Health District Public Information Officer Katherine Hoyer, so far no additional employees or resources have been assigned to accomplish the task.

“Not yet, but if we need to we have staff that is capable,” Ms. Hoyer said.

Businesses such as gyms, hair salons and other businesses where social distancing is impossible are also tasked with submitting how they will adhere to CDC guidelines.

It is not clear how health districts will monitor or enforce plan adherence, and plan approval is not required before businesses can reopen. Submitting a plan is considered adequate.

According to Ms. Hoyer, Panhandle Health does not have enforcement authority.

“Public health is not an enforcement authority. Stage 1 non-compliance has a misdemeanor associated with it. We are working to continually educate our public to keep everyone safe and healthy,” Ms. Hoyer said.

According to the Stay Healthy Order, signed by Governor Brad Little, “Violation of or failure to comply with this order may constitute a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both pursuant Idaho Code…”

The order goes on to request that Idaho sheriffs and police chiefs ensure compliance.

Benewah County Sheriff Dave Resser has declined to enforce the order. In the April 29, edition of this publication he said that he does not believe the order is constitutional.

The Idaho State Police have adopted an educational approach, dispensing pamphlets and discussing guidelines during otherwise routine encounters.

According to ISP District 1 Chief Captain John Kempf no arrests or citations have been issued related to the Stay Healthy Order. ISP District 1 includes the counties of Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai and Shoshone.

The Rebound Idaho plan, dictated by the Stay Healthy Order, began Stage 1, May 1. Stage 1 allows for the reopening of places of worship, daycares and other organized youth activities so long as they adhere to CDC guidelines regarding coronavirus countermeasures.

Stage 2, May 16, includes the opening of restaurant dining rooms, indoor recreation facilities and hair salons.

Stage 3, ends the 14-day quarantine requirement for people entering Idaho, allows for non-essential travel and states that “vulnerable Idahoans can resume public interactions…”

Stage 4, scheduled to occur between June 13 and June 26, is when bars, night clubs, and large venues will be allowed to operate under limited physical distancing protocols.

There is no stage 5. And every two weeks progress will be reevaluated and previous restrictions could be renewed.

(1) comment


Using an educational apporach seems to make sense but the local sheriff's assertion that the orders are "unconstitutional" is untrue according to our attorney general.

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