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Boise Reinstates Mask Requirement In City Buildings

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Eric Gay
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AP Images

As of Wednesday, masks will be required again in Boise city buildings -- even if you’re fully vaccinated.

Boise lifted its mask and crowd size restrictions in May, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated individuals no longer needed to wear face coverings in most settings.

But amid rising COVID-19 case rates in most states, fueled by the Delta variant, the CDC announced Tuesday it recommends even fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor spaces where there is "high" or "substantial" community transmission of the virus.

In Idaho, two-thirds of counties have a "high" or "substantial" level of community transmission, according to the CDC. Case rates have risen the most in the past week in Adams, Lewis, Shoshone, Twin Falls and Bear Lake counties.

Boise said in a press release Tuesday afternoon that the reversal is due to the new CDC guidance, and the “low vaccination rates in Ada County.”

About 60% of eligible Ada County residents -- age 12 and older -- are fully vaccinated, compared to 45% statewide. Only five states have lower percentages of the total population vaccinated than Idaho.

Boise's mask policy applies to city buildings, including Boise City Hall, City Hall West, the Boise Public Library, branch libraries, recreation facilities, water renewal facilities and city office buildings.

“The health and safety of our employees and residents is always our top priority,” said Chief of Staff Courtney Washburn. “Wearing masks is a proven way to stop the spread of COVID-19 and until there is a higher vaccine rate and fewer positive COVID-19 cases in Ada County, this step is necessary to protect our team and our residents who rely on the services the city provides.”

The CDC also recommends universal indoor masking for teachers, staff and students in schools, regardless of vaccination status. The COVID-19 vaccine is only currently available for kids older than 12.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio