Idaho House members approve bill that would prohibit local governments from imposing mask mandates

Idaho House members on Wednesday voted 46-23 to approve of a bill that would prohibit local governments from imposing mask mandates.

The bill passed through the house with no Democrats supporting it and 11 Republicans opposing it as well. The Republican Governor Brad Little has never imposed a mask mandate, but a handful of counties and multiple cities have done so. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Karey Hanks, stated, “This is a matter of our personal rights and our liberty.” Along with preventing government entities and public officials from enforcing masks, shields, or coverings, the bill would also prevent anyone from being denied work, services, or entry into a building for not wearing a mask. Hospitals and healthcare facilities are exempt from the bill.

The bill would also aim to end “any” disaster emergency or public health order if any city or county violates the mask-mandate prohibition. Representative Hanks claimed that masks aren’t effective in preventing the spread of a disease and noted that victims of sexual violence find wearing masks to be traumatic if they have ever had their face covered while being assaulted. While most health experts believe that masks are effective in preventing disease spread, there are some experts who say wearing a mask is only effective if you do it right. The most important thing that many people fail at is to never touch the outside fabric of the mask.

Dr. Daniel Griffin of Columbia University has stated in an interview, “That’s why in the studies, masks fail—people don’t use them (correctly). They touch the front of it. They adjust it. They push it down somehow to get their nose stuck out.” The CDC also states that reusable masks must be washed after each use. The bill has faced criticism from other Republicans such as Representative Greg Chaney. Chaney pointed out that the language of the bill is broad enough to include a welding mask for a welder.

The bill, however, specifically states that coverings may not be enforced “for the purpose of preventing or slowing the spread of a contagious or infectious disease.” He also said that it could prompt an end to a disaster declaration if a county receptionist prompted a family member to wear a mask while entering a building, even if a higher leveled employee overruled the direction. Although the bill, House_Bill_339, may face issues regarding the legality, it will still be sent to the Senate. Idaho is just the latest state to make a stride towards ending mask mandates. Texas, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, and North Dakota are amongst other states that have lifted their mask mandates.





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