Idaho is at a crossroads and human lives are at stake. As Nurse Connelly said during Gov. Brad Little’s press conference, 3,000 people died in the U.S. from COVID-19 that day alone. That is more than the number of lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attack. The people who have died are not just numbers on a spreadsheet. They had families. They were grandmas, grandpas, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons. They were valuable people who deserved leaders with the courage to make compassionate choices to protect their communities.

We implore Gov. Little to enact and require the best practices that medical experts have approved to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Those practices include wearing a facial covering, physical distancing, encouraging employers to support employees working at home and restricting indoor gatherings. The governor’s own Idaho Economic Rebound Advisory Committee has recommended a statewide mask order because the only way to build back our economy is to stop the pandemic.

Gov. Little has made it clear that he wants citizens to do the right thing. He was practically begging Idahoans during his press conference to make “good choices.” Unfortunately, many people are making dangerous choices that endanger the entire state. He also acknowledged the crisis that we face: Hospitals are turning people away and making unprecedented plans to ration care. Our own health district couldn’t fulfill the local control that the governor supports due to the unruly and threatening crowd outside its meeting. The governor’s current approach is not working.

Gov. Little cannot continue to rely on hope that everyone will make “good choices.” He must hold people accountable with the use of the law-and-order strategies we rely on to protect us from other dangers. Idahoans recognize the difficulty of his political situation, but there is no more patience or space for the decisions that willfully contribute to increasing the coronavirus death rate.

Critical moments require critical action. The governor is the only person with the authority to immediately require safety measures statewide that will prevent the spread of this deadly, contagious virus.

We appreciate the governor’s acknowledging the serious time we are in, but he needs to take the next steps to address the problem. We have heard from an overwhelming majority of constituents who want to see him be the leader they chose and know he aspires to be.

We have known Gov. Little to be a compassionate and knowledgeable leader who genuinely cares for Idaho families. Idahoans are here to support him when he makes the difficult decision that is necessary to keep people alive and healthy. We have been following his guidance since the beginning of the pandemic, and we’re willing to help him keep Idahoans safe with required safety measures.

Too many Idahoans have already lost their lives. We implore the governor to do everything in his power to prevent more tragedies.

Democratic Sen. Melissa Wintrow, Rep. Lauren Necochea and Rep. Chris Matias represent Idaho’s 19th District—northern Boise—in the Legislature.

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