Social distancing at The Village

Patrons observe social distancing guidelines as they gather near the fountains in the the courtyard at The Village in Meridian, Tuesday, May 26, 2020. Central District Health on June 22 announced Ada County is moving back to Stage 3 of reopening because of a spike in COVID-19 cases. On July 14, the health district issued a mask mandate for Ada County.

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BOISE — Central District Health’s Board of Public Health on Tuesday issued a mask mandate for Ada County.

The mandate, effective immediately, is part of the district's existing public health order that moved the county back to Stage 3 of reopening. The mandate requires people to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth in public places where they can't maintain 6 feet of distance, the health district said in a news release.

The city of Boise already has a mask mandate in place, but the health district's order will expand the requirement to the rest of the county, including Meridian, Star, Garden City, Kuna and Eagle, Don Day with BoiseDev reports.

Ada County comprises 27% of the state's population and 39% of its total coronavirus cases. The county is seeing increases of at least 100 cases per day for a total of 4,540 cases and 25 related deaths, according to Central District Health

Earlier Tuesday, leaders of several Idaho health systems held a virtual press conference calling for a statewide mask mandate, something Gov. Brad Little has no plans for. Wearing masks can stop 85% of transmissions of the disease, said Dr. Steven Nemerson, Saint Alphonsus chief clinical officer. 

Violators of the health district order could face a misdemeanor charge punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both, though board members admitted that enforcement of the mandate will likely be a significant challenge, KTVB reports. Some people will be exempt from the mask requirement, specifically, children under age 2 and adults who have severe respiratory or cardiac disease.

Central District Health is governed by a seven-member board of health, which is appointed by the county commissioners of the district’s four counties, its website states. Watch Tuesday's board meeting here.

The health district also covers Boise, Elmore, and Valley counties, but the order only applies to Ada County. During Tuesday's meeting, the board discussed the possibility of extending the order to Valley and Boise counties in the future, according to BoiseDev.

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