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Boise State Public Radio News is here to keep you current on the news surrounding COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Hundreds Protest Idaho Stay-Home Order

Several hundred protesters took to the steps of the Idaho Capitol Friday to push back on Gov. Brad Little’s stay-home order.

Many of the protesters were carrying firearms alongside signs ridiculing Gov. Little, saying his actions are unconstitutional. Few were wearing masks and almost no one was practicing the six-foot physical distancing medical experts say is key to bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control.

Republican State Representative Tammy Nichols addressed the crowd, saying business owners are suffering.

“They don't know how they're going to be able to pay their rent,” she said. “And they don't know how they're going to be able to run their businesses because they're shut down, and they don't know what to do. And all they're being told is you can't do this, you are non-essential. And that's not how this works.”

Nichols was one of at least three lawmakers who spoke at the rally and the Idaho House of Representatives leadership has also decried the order.

Idaho has a higher than average per capita COVID-19 infections and Blaine County is one of the worst affected areas in the nation per capita.

One counter-protester ran through the crowd with a sign yelling “Go home.” At one point one of the anti-Little protesters took his sign and destroyed it.

On Wednesday, Little extended an order that limits activities and keeps many businesses shuttered. The order also makes gatherings like this protest illegal, though police there did not appear to take action against any protesters.

The coronavirus has triggered a struggling economy and protests in several states have popped up to speak out against the shutdowns. 

The protest was organized by anti-vaccination group Health Freedom Idaho and promoted by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a conservative lobbying group.

Heath Druzin was Boise State Public Radio’s Guns & America fellow from 2018-2020, during which he focused on extremist movements, suicide prevention and gun culture.