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Bonneville County likely entering moderate risk COVID-19 category meaning masks could become mandatory

Coronavirus

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IDAHO FALLS — COVID-19 cases spiked over the weekend in Bonneville County, meaning the county will likely move into the moderate risk level of Eastern Idaho Public Health’s COVID-19 Regional Response Plan.

Bonneville County hit over 120 active cases Saturday and as of Sunday night, there were 145 cases. Active cases are the total number of cases — confirmed and probable — currently being monitored by EIPH, according to the EIPH plan. Any cases that have been released from monitoring are not included in this number.

The plan explains that when the rate of active cases becomes greater than 10 people for every 10,000 for a sustained three days period, a county will enter the moderate risk level.

Bonneville’s active rate per 10,000 was at 12.4 Sunday evening. If the high rates continues one more day, Bonneville will enter the moderate risk level.

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“As outlined in Idaho Code §39-414(2), Idaho’s public health districts shall ‘do all things required for the preservation and protection of the public health and preventive health,'” the plan states.

Along with six of the eight other counties in the health district’s region, Bonneville started in the minimal risk category. At that level, citizens are asked to take every day preventative measures. Some of those include staying home if sick, washing hands frequently or using hand sanitizer and maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet from others.

Bonneville might soon join Teton as the only two counties in eastern Idaho that have escalated to the moderate risk level. At the moderate level, citizens are asked to continue doing the every day preventative measures, along with new guidelines that include limiting events and social gatherings to no more than 150 people, doing telework where possible and issuing an order for mandatory face coverings in public.

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At this time, it’s unclear who would be responsible to enforce the mask order. EastIdahoNews.com has spoken with the Idaho Falls Police, Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office and Bonneville County prosecutor to learn exactly how a mask might be enforced. We’ll have a follow up on that topic later this week.

Looking at the order Teton County was issued, every person is required to wear a face-covering in public that completely covers the person’s nose and mouth when the person is in a public place where physical distancing of six feet cannot be maintained. The cities of Driggs and Victor had already adopted citywide mandatory mask ordinances, but the health plan makes the order countywide.

The Idaho Falls City Council has discussed masks, but hasn’t passed an ordinance on its own. Regardless, the health district’s emergency order would supersede any action by the city council.

A public place is defined as any place open to all members of the public without specific invitation, including retail, business establishments, government offices, medical, educational, arts and recreational institutions, public transportation, including taxi cabs and ridesharing vehicles, outdoor public areas, including, but not limited to public parks, trails, streets, sidewalks, lines for entry, exit, or service, when a distance of at least six feet cannot be maintained from any non-household member, according to an EIPH news release.

There are certain circumstances where facial coverings don’t have to be worn in Teton County such as for children under the age of 2 and people with a medical condition, mental health conditions or disabilities.

“A person is not required to provide documentation demonstrating that the person cannot tolerate wearing a face covering,” Teton County’s order reads.

Risk levels are temporary and are reassessed every 14 days.

For more information on the plan and what risk levels a county is at, visit EIPH’s website or Facebook page.

For more COVID-19 news, click here.

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