MCCALL, Idaho — Update: The McCall City Council on Wednesday night passed a resolution and health order requiring face masks to be worn in all indoor spaces or when six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.
The order goes into effect Thursday at midnight. The city has not said how long the order will last, but it will encompass this coming Fourth of July weekend when tens of thousands of visitors are set to travel to the lakeside community.
According to the city, education is the goal, but $100 fines are possible for those who do not comply. Officials said the order will help keep the public safe and businesses open. They also noted that it comes after an outpouring of support for the order from the community.
“We are told to assume that everyone has the virus and to protect ourselves accordingly," Mayor Bob Giles said in a statement. “And we are advised by leading medical professionals that in addition to proper hygiene, masks are the single most effective way for everyone to stay safe and stop the spread of Coronavirus.
"Business owners in our little town are looking for guidance and we are here to support them during this busy weekend,” Giles added.
The order affects all of McCall and includes an area five miles outside the city limits.
The city plans to update its website by Thursday morning with more information on what the order entails, and how long it will last.
McCall Mayor Bob Giles expects as many as 20,000 visitors to his city for the Fourth of July weekend.
In the midst of a pandemic, though, there are concerns.
“We think we’ve got confirmed cases that are three times as high from a couple of weeks ago," Giles said. "So, we are very concerned."
While Independence Day is always a big deal for McCall, Giles has a message for everyone coming to town.
“They need to wear a face covering," he said. "A simple cloth mask is extremely effective at preventing the spread of coronavirus."
COVID-19 numbers in Valley County may not seem so bad compared to surrounding areas, but Central District Health explains that the data paints a different picture.
“It’s counted where their primary residence is even if that individual may not currently be in that jurisdiction and that can be a little tricky for people,” CDH spokesman Brandon Atkins said.
The proximity of McCall to Ada County and the nature of McCall being a vacation spot also plays a role.
“They are adjacent to a county that has one of the highest spread rates in our entire state and because the population does have such a large number of homeowners that are current residents in Ada County, they are at high risk,” Atkins said.
With that said though, McCall is still open and welcoming visitors. Mayor Giles said they are, however, taking COVID precautions seriously.
An emergency City Council meeting is set for Wednesday evening to discuss guidance on masks in McCall, which could include two possible routes: a resolution, or an emergency order.
A resolution from the McCall City Council would strongly encourage the wearing of a face mask.
An emergency order would be more strict.
“That order would have certain requirements like you will wear a face mask and perhaps there would be a fine attached to that,” Giles said.
The City Council is expected to announce their action Wednesday evening.
Giles said he believes the community respects the idea of wearing masks to keep the community healthy.
“I feel like we have tremendous support to take some action,” he said.
For vacationers who don’t feel they can visit places like McCall while also taking local health measures seriously, health officials recommend they reconsider their trips.
“If it’s out of your comfort zone to wear a face covering out in public because you are on your vacation then maybe you should think twice about taking a vacation," Aktins said. "Because it’s not a vacation for anyone else. Everyone has to deal with this and we all have to do more than what we're doing to make a difference,” said Atkins.
Although many traditional Fourth of July events have been canceled in McCall, the city has a lot of responsible activities to offer.
“The lake is open, there is lots of outdoor activities that are safe to do, people are out riding their bicycles, out hiking, they are going into stores and window shopping,” Giles said.
Remember though, masks are highly encouraged in situations where physical distance just can’t happen in McCall and across Idaho.
“The message is that we need to be thinking about this everywhere we go and what we could be doing by impacting other populations,” Atkins said.
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