Madison, Fremont counties under mandatory mask order

stock photo

REXBURG — Eastern Idaho Public Health’s Board of Health has put restrictions in place for Fremont and Madison counties.

During a Monday morning meeting, the EIPH Board of Health voted to advance Fremont and Madison counties from the minimal risk level to the moderate risk level of EIPH’s COVID-19 Regional Response Plan. The two counties join Bonneville, Custer and Jefferson counties in the moderate risk level.

“Fremont County has now exceeded the 10 (active cases) per 10,000 (population) rate for four consecutive days. Those numbers are 12.2, 15.3, 14.5 and 15.3, respectively,” EIPH Director Geri Rackow explained during the meeting. “Madison County has been over the metric of 10 per 10,000 for five days now. Those numbers are 12, 12.8, 14, 12.5 and 13.3, respectively.”

This is the second time Fremont County has entered the moderate risk level, and it’s the first time for Madison County.

As part of the moderate risk level, an order’s been issued — effective immediately — for mandatory face coverings and limited gatherings.

“Every person is required to wear a face-covering that completely covers the person’s nose and mouth when the person is in a public place and other non-household members are present and physical distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained,” the order explains.

Additionally, social gatherings and events, both public and private, are limited to a maximum occupancy that provides for each person to have a 3-foot radius around them.

“It’ll have the greatest effectiveness if people will voluntarily follow the order,” Chairman Bryon Reed said.

RELATED | Rexburg City Council votes against mandatory masks, passes resolution encouraging them

He added that the importance of following the mandate is “even greater in my heart now” because children are back in school. He believes the community feels similar to him in that it’s crucial to keep schools open.

“For that reason … whether you like the mitigation strategies or not, (it) seems like a small price to pay … to help these children stay in schools,” he said.

RELATED | FACT OR FICTION: Local medical and legal experts weigh in on masks

Madison County Commissioner Brent Mendenhall said the number of recent active cases wasn’t because of the return of Brigham Young University-Idaho students to Rexburg, but that they do need to take them into account.

Fremont County Joint School District started school Sept. 8, and Madison School District began Aug. 26. EIPH Community Health Division Director James Corbett said the rise in COVID cases isn’t strictly due to schools opening.

He noted that the data indicate the increase of recent cases might be due to Labor Day weekend. He said, based on anecdotal evidence, fewer people were getting tested during that time.

“Certainly the number of increases correspond with schools opening, but how much that plays into right now, that’s difficult to say for sure,” he said during the meeting. “(COVID cases are) still tied to mostly family-type events.”

The order is in place for a minimum of 14 days, and then it will be re-evaluated.

Copies of all the orders can be found by clicking here.

More COVID-19 news can be found here.