So, here we are, September of 2023, and a familiar topic is resurfacing. As COVID-19 cases are rising again across the country, some places are considering bringing back mask mandates. But will those mandates find their way to the Treasure Valley?
If you've been to the Albertsons on Broadway, Boise Towne Square, or even a McDonald's Drive Thru lately, you've probably seen at least a few people wearing their masks for the first time since the mandates were lifted on March 7, 2022.
I don't think that even if COVID came roaring back, the State of Idaho would go for a shutdown, but what about a mask mandate? City and state officials may consider it, but it will take a serious surge of cases.
Mask mandates have returned to all medical facilities in the Canadian Province of British Columbia. British Columbia is the province directly north of Idaho. If they have a COVID issue, it will stand to reason that Idaho may soon have one.
While Idaho doesn't have an issue yet, parts of neighboring states do. According to COVID Act Now, over 20% of hospital beds in Grant County, North Dakota are taken by COVID patients. Whatcom County, Washington, is up to over 8%, which places them in the Top 40 counties in the nation. Several counties in Oregon have also made the top 60 counties in the country for the number of hospital beds used for COVID patients. Closer to home, Twin Falls County is ranked #96, with nearly 5% of hospital beds in the Magic Valley being taken up with COVID.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 is once again on the rise. However, the symptoms are milder for most than when we first learned about it. The hospitalization rate is far from where it was before. Idaho is reporting that 4.5 out of 100,000 COVID cases require hospitalization.
Washington, DC, has the highest COVID-19 admission rate in the United States, while Idaho ranks 40th. Maryland has the highest rate of hospital beds taken up by COVID-19 patients at 7.2%, while Idaho is ranked 15th at 1.9%. That's higher than New York, Florida, Oregon, and 32 other states.
While it's likely that Boise or Ada County could issue a mask mandate in health care and long-term care facilities, it won't be anytime soon. These numbers need to spike much higher before lawmakers and policymakers consider it.