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EIPH removes COVID-19 gathering restrictions, but state order still in force


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EIPH board makes changes in the public health order during a special meeting Monday morning.

IDAHO FALLS — The Eastern Idaho Public Health board voted to remove gathering restrictions Monday morning from its public health order.

The decision put the local order in line with Gov. Brad Little’s revised order issued last week. During their special Zoom meeting, board members discussed how the decision removes confusion on which order to follow.

Although EIPH dropped its limits, Little’s order still prohibits many public and private gatherings of more than 10 people.

On Wednesday, Little directed the State Board of Education to revise its high school athletic plan to allow more spectators at sporting events.

According to documents shared in Monday’s meeting, the new plan allows up to 40% capacity or up to four spectators per student, whichever is greater. The previous guidelines allowed only two people per participant at the athletic event.

Some legislators in Idaho are also trying to pass a resolution that would remove gathering restrictions altogether as part of the Idaho Rebounds plan established by Little and IDHW on Dec. 30. The resolution is scheduled for a third read on the house floor Monday morning.

Additional legislation is on the table to limit Little’s executive powers enacted in response to the pandemic.

For several weeks, statewide COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have decreased. EIPH reports there are 364 active cases of COVID-19 in the eight county health district. Over 21,000 people have recovered from the virus while 200 people have died, according to numbers updated Sunday evening.

Vaccines to combat the virus have rolled into Idaho over the past month. Since the first administered dose on Dec. 14, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare data shows 64,157 people statewide have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. In EIPH, 10,188 people have been vaccinated.

Reed stressed that people still need to wear face coverings when they can not socially distance, wash their hands and follow other guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“All those measures that have helped Idaho and helped our area bring these numbers down and get to where we are now, that needs to continue,” Reed said. “I had a real concern that (if) we drop ours, what would happen?”

You can read the latest COVID-19 news here.