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Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s undermining of Idaho’s efforts to confront COVID-19 has gone from puzzling to dangerously irresponsible.

In April, McGeachin spent her time criticizing the governor’s actions to mitigate COVID-19’s spread, both in a letter and a rally.

She started May by attending the reopening of a brewery in Kendrick, which went against the governor’s phased reopening plan. The brewery was later fined for violating the emergency order. Later that month, she distributed an opinion piece further encouraging people to defy public health orders.

In August, McGeachin criticized Gov. Brad Little’s stay-at-home order in a speech given for a rally organized by the John Birch Society in Twin Falls titled “Freedom is the Cure.”

McGeachin, part of the governor’s Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee, asked for a delay on a vote to spend federal fund to offset state education budget holdbacks in September. She then skipped the vote entirely. Based on a Twitter post from the day of the vote, she appeared to attend a fundraiser headlined by Donald Trump Jr. in Stanley, according to IdahoEdNews.

To cap off a chaotic year, McGeachin touted a proposal last month to purchase “walk-through disinfectant tunnels” using the state’s CARES Act funds. Multiplestudies have said “disinfection tunnels” or “sanitization tunnels” are dangerous and useless for preventing the spread of COVID-19, which spreads through exhaled and inhaled droplets, according to reporting from the Idaho Press. She also made several suggestions on nurses and staffing, most of which we found either unhelpful or had already been implemented by the state.

We have scratched our heads all year at McGeachin’s actions, but the promotion of debunked science at the expense of people’s health? Well, that’s crossing the line.

“Being a loose cannon doesn’t get you anywhere. I’m all about solving problems, and that’s why I got into this race. I care about our state,” McGeachin said just before her election in 2018

A loose cannon is defined as a “dangerously uncontrollable person or thing,” according to Merriam Webster. In the Urban Dictionary, a glossary for pop-culture terms, loose cannon is described as “a person lacking prudence or insight, whose actions and/or speech jeopardises the safety of people in their proximity or under their authority.

By neglecting her responsibility, and contradicting the governor, McGeachin has created a tense work environment within Idaho’s executive branch. At one point during the pandemic, the top two leaders of Idaho’s executive branch went weeks without speaking. That is unacceptable during normal times, and even more senseless during a time of crisis. We can all agree that government works best when our leaders operate together in good faith. If Little and McGeachin can’t even speak, we doubt there’s much problem-solving happening.

Idaho is rarely spoken about on a national scale. So for McGeachin to be making national news for her disinfectant tunnel proposal is embarrassing, and makes Idaho look like a backwards, uneducated state.

It’s also difficult to watch her wield her authority in a way that takes advantage of people’s fears and desire to return to a more normal society. We understand how desperate people are for answers, and how appealing her brand is to many Idahoans. If there were a quick fix, we would have found it already. We would be on to the next issue, COVID-19 in the rearview mirror.

If McGeachin was being a responsible civil servant, she would be educating herself far more than she is. She would be a student of the problem and search for fact-based information from knowledgeable experts, then introduce solutions using her statewide platform. If she had followed those steps, she wouldn’t be advocating spending millions on junk science or suggesting changes to nursing licensure that were implemented months ago by Little.

Editorials are based on the majority opinion of the Idaho Press editorial board, comprised of community members Rod Gramer, Rosie Delgadillo Reilly, Tracy Watt, Nicholas O’Bryant and Pat Klocke, and Idaho Press President and Publisher Matt Davison. Idaho Press managing editor Holly Beech and city editor Tess Fox are non-voting members. Views expressed in the editorial do not necessarily represent unanimous agreement among all board members.

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