front_Aska Langman

Teton Valley Hospital throws support behind the mask order


On Monday, Teton County commissioners asked the emergency management department to draft a mask ordinance or resolution for public consideration after the cities of Driggs and Victor passed similar ordinances last week.

However, on Tuesday, Eastern Idaho Public Health, the regional public health agency, noted that Teton County has crested a threshold of active cases in a and will likely issue a mandatory mask order for Teton County this Thursday at 5 p.m. at their next meeting. Today, Teton County Commissioners deferred to the regional health agency for new order.

Teton County has maintained 14 active cases for the last two days as of mid-afternoon Wednesday and 27 total cases since mid-June. 

Bill Leake, the former Teton County Commissioner and local liaison to EIPH told commissioners today, Wednesday July 15 that he’s, “99 percent sure” that the order will pass this Thursday.

While the EIPH order has not yet been posted publicly, Leake said the order will look a lot like the mask order issued by Ada County on Tuesday. That order states: "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 others are present and physical distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained."

The order goes on to list a variety of exceptions including for children under the age of 2 and for people with medical conditions, mental health conditions, or a disability that prevent them from wearing a face covering. 

Ahead of Wednesday’s county meeting, the Board Chair of Teton Valley Health issued a statement of support for a countywide mask requirement.

“Representing TVH board of director's, we strongly encourage you to pass a mandatory face mask resolution for Teton County,” said Bob Whipple, DVM, MD, MMM, Chairman Board of Directors Teton Valley Health. “This is proactive, mitigation action to blunt the COVID virus curve rather that a reactive action to try and catch up with the virus as proposed by EIPH guidelines.”

According to the Post Register, any mandates that a health district issues would have to carry misdemeanor charges for violators, which could lead to $1,000 in fines and six months in jail, attorney Michael Kane told the EIPH board last week. Kane, who advises health districts, said cities are allowed to levy lesser punishments with their mandates, such as a simple $100 fine.

This story will be updated to reflect Thursday's EIPH decision.