Idaho Falls City Council passes COVID-19 resolution; will develop citation procedure
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IDAHO FALLS — The city of Idaho Falls passed a resolution Tuesday evening in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
During a city council meeting, council members adopted a resolution with a number of parts. First the resolution explains the city council and mayor “endorse and will act to support” both Eastern Idaho Public Health’s COVID-19 Regional Response Plan and Gov. Little’s Nov. 14 proclamation regarding Rebound Idaho Stage 2 restrictions on public activities.
The resolution also states that the city council, mayor and city departments expects all individual members of the community to comply with both EIPH’s response plan and Little’s proclamation.
Finally, the city of Idaho Falls will also “develop and execute, by Dec. 1, 2020, a citation and prosecution procedure for organizers of public events involving attendees exceeding the number allowed to gather by the Governor of Idaho’s Rebound Idaho restrictions.”
“A multitude of small steps by governing entities, but also by individuals in this community, can be a big stride in trying to reduce the level of surge,” Councilman Jim Francis said during the meeting. “We have to know this (COVID-19) is temporary, … but right now, we can all help each other with a series of small steps.”
During the meeting, Mayor Rebecca Casper explained Little’s order is written vague enough and has “loopholes” that make it difficult to apply and enforce.
She asked the council before voting on the resolution to be “very realistic in terms of our expectations.”
“We might find that through all of our efforts — council effort, police effort and legal effort — it’s still not able to stick,” she stated.
Back in July, EIPH’s board of directors unanimously passed an order regarding restrictions being placed on gatherings and masks becoming mandatory in Bonneville County.
On Thursday, Bonneville County was moved to the most serious level of EIPH’s response plan after hitting the metric of at least 45 active COVID-19 cases per 10,000 people for three consecutive days.
The critical risk level indicates an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases. On Tuesday, Bonneville had 134 new COVID-19 cases to bring the total of confirmed and probable cases to 7,191 since mid-March. That is the highest amount of cases in EIPH’s eight-county region. A case is considered probable if a person has not been tested, or a test is pending, and the person has all the symptoms of COVID-19, has come into direct contact with an infected person, and developed symptoms within the expected timeframe.
Bonneville currently has 585 active cases and is responsible for more than half of the deaths in the health district with 58 so far.
Council President Michelle Ziel-Dingman said due to the increasing cases of COVID-19, she believes it’s important government agencies step up their support for Little’s proclamation and the enforcement of the boundaries within the plan.
“I believe mitigation strategies can slow the spread. We’re never going to be able to stop the spread completely, but I want to see children in school, businesses open and our community as prosperous as it possibly can be,” Ziel-Dingman explained. “I think it’s particularly important that council give this direction to the mayor and the city that public events will not be tolerated without a consequence per the rebound Idaho plan.”
Idaho Falls is not the first local city to discuss the role it can play in helping keep its community members safe during COVID-19.
Last week, Rexburg discussed possible enforcement of a mask mandate but no decisions were made at that time. On the other hand, Pocatello passed a mask ordinance Thursday that includes fines if residents don’t wear one. Boise recently announced similar enforcement policies.
In all three cases, protestors showed up in response to the actions of local government. However, on Tuesday night, there were no protestors at City Hall in Idaho Falls.
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