Story at a glance
- Cases have been rising since Thanksgiving, when many Americans traveled and gathered in groups for the holiday.
- In Idaho, an uptick in cases prompted a discussion about new public health measures.
- The meeting was cancelled, however, after "anti-mask, anti-health-order" protesters surrounded the homes of board members.
A virtual special meeting of the Central District Health (CDH) Board in Boise, Idaho, was cut short on Tuesday night after "anti-mask, anti-health-order" protesters gathered outside the CDH office and some of the board members' homes.
Ted Epperly, one of the board members, told the Idaho Statesman that about 15 people were outside his home, “beating garbage cans and flashing strobe lights through my windows. Two came up and knocked on my door during the meeting” — adding, "I am disappointed that we had to table the vote.”
BREAKING NEWS ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
The vote in question was on elevating the current Public Health Advisory for Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley Counties to a Public Health Order, which would, among other things, prohibit private gatherings of 10 or more people and require wearing face masks in public. The controversial order amassed more than 3,000 written public comments, according to the CDH, in the three days after it was opened on Dec. 4, when the special meeting was called due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving. New coronavirus cases have been surging across the country and in Idaho, where more than 1,000 confirmed and probable cases were reported just the week before.
"We appreciate the public's interest and investment in this process, but the safety of CDH staff, our Board members and our law enforcement partners is of the utmost importance. Our community is being severely impacted by this virus and our team members and board are working tirelessly to protect our community's health. We simply ask that those who may disagree with these difficult discussion points and decisions do so in a way that is respectful and does not endanger our staff, board of health members, and our law enforcement, all who are critical in this response," said Russ Duke, District Director for Central District Health, in a statement.
Boise police said in a statement that the department asked board members to adjourn in the interest of public safety, citing "concern that officers would not be able to maintain public order." No injury or damage was reported, but police took 53-year-old Yvonne St Cyr to Ada County Jail after a CDH representative placed her under citizen's arrest for trespassing, saying Cyr "refused to follow CDH rules" and would not leave voluntarily.
One board representative shared an update on Twitter, saying, “We are all fine."
Update: We are fine. Thanks all for your concern and especially @BoisePD for your help.— Diana Lachiondo (@LachiondoD) December 9, 2020
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CORONAVIRUS RIGHT NOW