BOISE, Idaho — The Central District Board of Health on Tuesday agreed to draft proposals that would, if approved, implement further restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposed restrictions include a county-wide facemask mandate for Valley County and further restrictions in Ada County, including limiting gatherings and closing gyms.

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Board member and Valley County commissioner Elting Hasbrouck requested the mask requirement for his county, saying during Tuesday's meeting that a mandate is needed, given a recent increase in COVID-19 cases there.

As of Tuesday, Valley County has had a total of 48 confirmed cases and one death due to the virus.

Hasbrouck noted that he has received requests for the mandate from business owners in the county.

Board member and Ada County commissioner Diana Lachiondo added that there is an increased threat to Valley County residents due to the large number of visitors to the county from nearby Ada and Canyon counties, which remain the state's hot spots for COVID-19 infections.

CDH Director Russ Duke echoed those concerns.

"We're definitely seeing Valley County affected by Ada County," he said.

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The proposed new restrictions in Ada County came from board member Dr. Ted Epperly, who recommended limiting gatherings to groups of 10 or less and asked the board to consider closing down gyms. Epperly cited a recent White House report that he said made the same recommendations for the county.

"There's a danger if we delay this," Epperly said, warning that failure to slow the spread of the virus now could make the situation significantly worse when flu season begins in the fall.

Ada County currently remains in Stage 3 of reopening, which limits gatherings to 50 people or less and keeps bars and nightclubs closed. While Epperly recommended limiting group sizes to 10 people, the board will also consider a less-drastic measure that would limit gatherings to groups of 25 people or less.

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Board member from Elmore County, Rep. Megan Blanksma, urged the board to implement a structured plan when it comes to adding new restrictions, similar to the new color-coded guidance for school districts.

The board will discuss the possible new restrictions at their meeting on Tuesday, August 11 at 4 p.m. 

Duke said the proposals would be made public on the CDH website by Friday, August 7 so community members could weigh in.

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