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Oregon has a mask mandate. Idaho doesn’t. Oregon now worried over COVID-19 threat from Idaho

Oregon is still unsure how to deal with the coronavirus threat from Idaho.

Emily Wahl, center, and more than 100 other people gather at City Hall to protest Mayor Lauren McLean’s order mandating people to wear face coverings in Boise, Idaho, Friday, July 3, 2020.
Emily Wahl, center, and more than 100 other people gather at City Hall to protest Mayor Lauren McLean’s order mandating people to wear face coverings in Boise, Idaho, Friday, July 3, 2020.
Katherine Jones, Idaho Statesman via Associated Press

Oregon is still unsure how to deal with the coronavirus threat from its neighboring state of Idaho since the two states have different approaches to how they’re tackling the virus.

What’s going on?

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown enacted a statewide mask mandate for Oregon. But Idaho Gov. Brad Little has allowed health districts to make their own decisions about masks, according to the Idaho Statesman.

This has raised concern from border towns in Oregon, who have worried about community spread from areas in Idaho, the Idaho Statesman reports.

Sarah Poe, director of the Malheur County Health Department in eastern Oregon, said it’s been difficult to monitor both states.

  • “I have had very strong encouragement from the state level, both the governor’s office and the Oregon Health Authority, to be mitigating the risk from Idaho,” Poe said. “And it’s been very hard.”
  • “We remain committed to working with bordering state partners to ensure healthy communities,” she wrote. “The positivity rate is mirrored on both sides of the border. We advise citizens to follow the laws and recommendations of their state.”

Idaho spike earlier in the summer

Idaho saw a COVID-19 spike back in July, becoming one of the top eight states for infection rates across the country, which I wrote about for Deseret.com.

  • Idaho had fewer than 50 cases per day before June 15. But on July 19, the state reported 550 cases. The state had more than 700 cases on one day, too.