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Idaho Lt. Gov. McGeachin issues order terminating public agency mask mandates

Politics

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Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin | EastIdahoNews.com file photo

BOISE (Idaho Capital Sun) — While acting as governor in Gov. Brad Little’s absence on Thursday, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin issued an executive order prohibiting mask mandates issued by the state or its “political subdivisions,” including public schools, counties, cities and public health districts. It also extends to state boards, commissions, departments and divisions.

It does not include federal buildings, hospitals or health care facilities. The order is effective as of 11 a.m.

Little’s press secretary, Marissa Morrison Hyer, told the Idaho Capital Sun via email that the governor is out of state collaborating with other state governors, but he will be back Thursday evening.

“The lieutenant governor did not make Gov. Little aware of her executive order ahead of time,” Morrison Hyer said.

The governor’s office is reviewing the order, she said. An expanded statement from the governor’s office on the executive order will be made available after it is reviewed, according to Morrison Hyer.

“Throughout the pandemic, Gov. Little has been committed to protecting the health and safety of the people of Idaho and has emphasized the importance of Idahoans choosing to protect our neighbors and loved ones and keeping our economy and schools open,” she said. “Idahoans value local control and the local approach to addressing important issues.”

The order states individuals cannot be mandated to use a face mask, face shield or other face covering for the purpose of preventing or slowing the spread of a contagious or infectious disease. It cites serious concerns raised about “both short-term and long-term negative effects caused by wearing masks,” but does not cite what those effects would be. Medical experts have debunked claims that masks are harmful to a person’s health.

Title 67 of Idaho Code grants the acting governor the same power and duties as the governor in his absence.

Gov. Little has not issued a statewide mask mandate throughout the pandemic, and many other public entities, such as the cities of Boise and Pocatello, have removed the requirement to wear masks in public spaces as COVID-19 case numbers continue to trend downward. West Ada and Boise school districts are two examples of public entities that still have mandates in place.

McGeachin has announced she intends to run for governor in the 2022 Republican primary. Little has not announced his intentions for the election.

Screenshots of the executive order issued by Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who was acting as governor in the absence of Gov. Brad Little | Courtesy Idaho Capital Sun

Idaho Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Idaho Capital Sun maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Christina Lords for questions: info@idahocapitalsun.com. Follow Idaho Capital Sun on Facebook and Twitter.

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