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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.

Idaho Moves Into Phase 3 Of Reopening Starting Saturday

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Idaho Statesman
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Gov. Brad Little is moving ahead with entering the third phase of his reopening plan, despite a recent uptick in confirmed cases.

Bars, which Little moved from the fourth phase of his original plan to the third phase, will be able to open their doors starting Saturday. Movie theaters, which were also originally scheduled to reopen later, can also do so beginning this weekend.

“I’m hopeful we’ve passed the worst of COVID-19 in our state, if we all continue to routinely practice measures to [prevent] its spread,” he said Thursday.

When asked why he suddenly included movie theaters in an earlier phase of reopening, Little said, “I would much rather start something a little earlier than have to delay things to a later point in time.”

Last week South Central Public Health, which includes Twin Falls and Jerome counties, among others, reported an uptick of confirmed coronavirus cases. Those numbers seem to have fallen off since.

As of Thursday afternoon, nearly 2,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been detected and 82 people have died.

The data the state uses to determine whether or not it will move forward with the plan includes keeping newly confirmed cases on a downward trend and below five percent, having low reported numbers of people with COVID-19-like symptoms going to the emergency room and having enough ICU bed space at hospitals, among other factors.

“We’re very comfortably treating all patients with good standards of care,” said Dr. Christine Hahn, the state epidemiologist.

As Idaho continues to move forward, Little urged residents to continue to follow social distancing guidelines and to wear a face covering when out in public – including at grocery stores.

“The one and only reason we’re able to progress through stages of reopening is because the people of Idaho, individually and collectively, have taken personal responsibility in slowing the spread of this new disease.”

“Our personal choices matter,” he added.

But on this same day, two of the three Bonner County Commissioners approved a proclamation declaring the governor’s phased-in reopening plan “unconstitutional and [replicates] methods used in command-and-control societies such as China.” Ultimately, the commissioners said that the county will not follow Little’s directions.

“This Order directs localities to invade their citizens [sic] bodily integrity, amongst other liberty invasions, by imposing a system of forced testing and forced vaccinations, even without substantial evidence that a forced testing and forced vaccination regime is necessary to accomplish constitutionally compelling government objectives,” wrote Commissioners Dan McDonald and Steven Bradshaw.

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has said the governor’s orders are, in fact, constitutional, and would defend them in court if necessary.

Little’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the action by Bonner County Commissioners.

County officials in other states have taken similar action, including in neighboring Washington. In April, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to reopen businesses, openly defying Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s orders.

The county, which includes parts of the Tri-Cities in the central part of the state, quickly rescinded the vote upon advice from its lawyer.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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