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Minidoka Health District Trustee Resigns After Voting For Mask Mandate

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The Minidoka County trustee on the South Central Public Health District Board has resigned.

Tracy Haskin, from Heyburn, Idaho, had served as a volunteer on the South Central Public Health District Board since 2016. The Health District voted 5-4 to reject a mask mandate at a special meeting on Nov. 19.

Haskin resigned a few hours after the vote, she told Boise State Public Radio on Monday.

Haskin voted for the mask mandate, even though two out of three Minidoka County commissioners asked her to vote against it.

“I have been instructed by a split vote of my commissioners to vote ‘no’ on this,” Haskin said during the last board meeting. “But, I will not be able to do that with a clear conscience, so I will be voting ‘yes’ on this today.”

Haskin feels strongly that the health district should follow the advice of local medical professionals who recommend that public health policies be enacted -- such as a mask mandate -- to slow the spread of COVID-19. She was one of five members appointed to the board, including the medical consultant, who are not current county commissioners.

She will likely be replaced on the health board by Minidoka County Commissioner Sheryl Koyle, who had instructed Haskin on Nov. 19 to vote against the mask mandate.

Koyle said she does not support a mask mandate because her constituents don’t want it.

“We feel like we probably are going to need to be in a position to be able to vote what the majority of the citizens prefer,” Koyle said.t

Haskin said she was not pressured by the commissioners to resign. She told Boise State Public Radio that she stepped down because of ongoing disagreements with county commissioners over the board’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Maybe they could not rely on me representing them,” she said.

Health district board members will vote on Koyle’s appointment at their next meeting on Wednesday. Confirmation will require approval from a majority of the county commissioners in the public health district’s eight-county region.

Minidoka County has the third-highest COVID-19 case rate per-capita in the state during the pandemic. Around 9% of Minidoka County residents have been infected with the virus: 1,887 confirmed and probable cases have been reported out of a population of 21,000.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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