Movement has begun, albeit late, to slow the spread of COVID-19, a highly contagious coronavirus, in Blaine County and the rest of Idaho. The hope is that “better late than never” will save lives, but more must be done quickly.
Gov. Brad Little needs to restrict gatherings, control access to businesses that may be viral centers, restrict travel and get more tests for Idaho.
State Department of Health and Welfare Director David Jeppesen must shoulder his legal duties, including the power to impose and enforce orders of isolation and quarantine, to protect the public from the spread of infectious diseases. The department and health districts should help vulnerable residents of nursing and assisted-living centers by ramping up staff testing.
That could keep such facilities from becoming death traps like the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., which was a nexus for the outbreak and where 50 staffers have tested positive for the virus.
Idaho’s mayors and city councils should act, too. State law empowers cities to enact ordinances to preserve public health, prevent introduction of contagious diseases and make and enforce quarantine laws within 5 miles of city limits.
Mayors can enforce the ordinances like New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio did when he ordered restaurants and bars into take-out-only operations Sunday.
All organizations must be conscientious. Sun Valley Resort followed other ski resorts and rightly shut down Bald Mountain on Monday, the same day Blaine County schools closed.
The virus will bring grievous economic harm, but lives are priceless. Action is key. Just ask Italy, which acted too late and where hundreds of people are dying each day.