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Central District Health lifts face mask advisory for four counties

CDH lifted it in response to the CDC's new guidance on fully vaccinated individuals not needing to wear masks indoors.

BOISE, Idaho — Fully vaccinated Idahoans will no longer need to wear a mask in most indoor settings, according to new guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

While Idaho never had a statewide mandate, several cities in the region put them in place. McCall recently lifted its order while Boise still requires masks inside, for now.

CDH lifted its public health advisory in all four counties under its jurisdiction, which covers Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley counties.

Russ Duke, the director for CDH, said with the latest federal guidance, the public health district felt it was no longer necessary to provide that level of detail to the four counties.

The CDC guidance does still call for masking in some indoor situations, such as planes, trains and busses, and transportation hubs like airports and if they're showing symptoms.

Right now, businesses in Boise require masks due to the city order. However, there are private businesses outside of Boise where there isn’t a mask mandate that are requiring masks.

“CDH is not going to basically tell them how to operate their businesses,” Duke said. “Because people who are unvaccinated should continue to wear face coverings when out in public spaces.”

This guidance applies to folks who have received their final dose of the vaccine and it’s been more than two weeks.

“It's still present in our communities we don't have near the cases we had this past winter,” Duke said. “It’s still around and precautions are appropriate for people who aren't vaccinated.”

The City of Boise is expected to announce changes to its public health order on Friday. Duke said he talked to Mayor Lauren McLean about the new guidance.

“I think they were just as surprised as we were at CDH with this news and it takes a little bit of time to digest it and determine the best path forward,” he said.

Right now, within CDH's jurisdiction, Duke estimates that around 50% of people are partially vaccinated.

“We're providing this updated guidance and it provides a lot more freedom to those who are vaccinated so I’m hoping it will boost our rate from what it is today,” he said.

Duke said they will also support fully vaccinated individuals who choose to continue to wear a mask indoors since there are people in the community that have not been vaccinated yet due to lack of access.

“I think we have to keep in mind that a certain segment of our population has not had the opportunity to be vaccinated because it’s not essentially authorized and that would be children through the age of 15,” he said.

When it comes to schools, Duke said this guidance does not change anything. CDH is still recommending schools continue masking children and staff, especially indoors.

The Boise School District announced their mask requirements are staying in place until the district reviews its current face mask guidelines.

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