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The Central District Health board on Friday rescinded the mask orders in place for Ada and Valley counties, writes Idaho Press reporter Erin Sheridan. The board opted instead for a public health advisory for Ada, Elmore, and Valley counties that outlines “strong recommendations” to wear a face covering, avoid indoor social gatherings and gatherings of more than 50 people, and get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The orders were lifted following a “steady decline in case counts in recent weeks and reduced impacts on hospitals” across the health region, the district stated.

The advisory will remain in effect until residents 65 and older have had the opportunity to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine “plus two weeks to ensure they receive the best protection,” and the district’s two-week average daily case rate remains less than 30 cases per 100,000 population, according to the document.

Much of the public has not yet been vaccinated and can still be exposed to the virus.

The public order for Ada County, first issued in June, had mandated mask-wearing in public and barred gatherings of more than 50 people, while Valley County’s order only mandated the use of masks.

A districtwide health order proposed for all four counties failed in December after protests delayed the board’s vote, according to previous Idaho Press reporting.

The city of Boise on Friday updated its own public health order, which will continue to require masks, with some exemptions, and six feet of social distance for all non-household members in public places. The order prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people, up from a previous cap of 10.

You can read Sheridan's full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up Saturday's print edition of the Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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