Comparing the Two Executive Orders
On May 28, 2021, Governor Little issued Executive Order 2021-08, replacing Executive Order 2021-07 which stated that the Idaho State Government cannot require face masks. The Governor also criticized the replaced Executive Order. He said that a mask mandate was never issued on a statewide level. He also stated that local government control should be respected. Little is on the wrong side of this issue. Here’s why.
The Covid-19 emergency declaration, declared by Governor Little, has now been in place for just over one year. Mr. Little set four arbitrary stages for the emergency lockdown. Currently, we are in Stage 4. According to the Department of Health, the guidelines for Stage 4 are:
Businesses and governmental agencies may continue operations at physical locations in the state of Idaho
All individuals, businesses, and governmental agencies should adhere to the physical distancing and sanitation requirements described in Section 4.
Covid-19 vaccines are encouraged for all eligible individuals.
Gatherings, both public and private, should adhere to the requirements identified in Section 2.
Face coverings are strongly recommended per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Face coverings are required at long-term care facilities.
The issue of mask mandates was addressed at a recent Community Townhall Meeting held in the City of Chubbuck. As one of our local representatives explained, the Department of Health is supposed to issue guidelines, not mandates. The failure of government entities throughout Idaho to understand the difference has been a source of much frustration.
Regardless, over the last few months, the Pocatello City Council considered ending its mask mandate at regular intervals. Each time, the Department of Health’s “guidelines” were brought up. It was clear to me that the majority of the members on the City Council did not want to violate these guidelines.
Intended or not, Department of Health guidelines are being implemented as mandates. In Governor Little’s criticism, he was using semantics to argue about his mandates. Any sensible individual can see through it. His criticism that Lt. Governor McGeachin’s actions amounted to eroding Local Control is disingenuous.
I recall that, a year ago, Idahoans were forced to stay at home, businesses were closed, and the entire State was shut down. Then, some “essential” businesses were permitted to open, with limitations on social distancing along with the number of people permitted to gather in one place. We are still in Stage 4. Thankfully, the Idaho House of Representatives has done much to lessen the ill impact of the continual emergency status; saying no to vaccine passports, and saying no to forced requirements to take the vaccination.
Consider the face coverings or masks. Despite the scientific recognition of the ineffectiveness of face masks, government entities at various levels continue to mandate them.
The government’s role is not to rule over its citizens. Throughout the State, masks are being phased out. Most of the State (Mr. Little being a notable exception) recognizes this fact. Most Idahoans have stopped wearing them. Why not then make it official?
Our Lieutenant Governor is, and has acted as, a public servant. She heard the grievances of her constituents. She responded to them. Rather than criticizing your Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Little, you should be on the side of the people and the action she took to respond to them.
Art da Rosa, PE, MPA