Blaine County is known for its ski resort, mountains and trails, but it doesn’t have a Costco, Walmart or Target. For that, Wood River Valley residents travel south.
“Twin Falls tends to be the retail hub for all these counties. So we know a lot of folks travel here to do their shopping,” said Twin Falls County Commissioner Don Hall.
On Monday, Twin Falls followed the lead of many other municipalities in Idaho by declaring a state of emergency at both the city and county levels. The action comes fives days after the first case of coronavirus was announced in Twin Falls County, and it allows the governmental bodies to streamline funds toward the COVID-19 response.
Blaine County, which is under an isolation order from Governor Brad Little, is on Twin Falls' radar. Over the weekend, the Central Public Health District told people who had been to the Blaine County in the past two weeks to shelter in place.
Twin Falls City Manager Travis Rothweiler is drafting an ordinance that would allow the city to take more action, ranging from encouraging social distancing to enforcing complete isolation like in Blaine County.
Rothweiler said the city is working on this measure to have it ready in case it's needed, but that it does not have plans to introduce such mandates at this time. During Monday's meeting, council members emphasized the need to consider how businesses in Twin Falls would be affected by the policies.
"I understand what’s happening up in Blaine County. But we’re a little different than Blaine County," said Councilman Chris Reid. "How do we support not only Twin Falls, but the surrounding areas?"
Restaurants in Twin Falls, like those around the country, are offering take out and curbside food pickups. But many remain open for in-house dining.
"I am seeing that some businesses are totally complying with what the CDC and the governments have recommended and some are not, and I would just reiterate that we need to be responsible stewards of our community," said Vice-mayor Ruth Pierce.
Rothweiler said Monday’s emergency declaration doesn’t impose any restrictions on businesses in Twin Falls.
Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen
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