Bonner Co. Sheriff questions public health officials, calls COVID-19 response ‘unconstitutional’

bonner county sheriff daryl wheeler
Credit: Bonner County Sheriff's Office

BONNER CO., Idaho — The Bonner County Sheriff questioned public health officials and called Idaho’s response to COVID-19 “unconstitutional” in a letter to Governor Brad Little.

Idaho is currently under a stay home order in an effort to help flatten the curve of the virus, which Sheriff Daryl Wheeler claimed is a violation of the public’s right to assemble.

Wheeler referenced a letter written by a Florida businessman Alfie Oaks, who questioned information released by the World Health Organization and response to that data.

Several states across the country have issued stay home orders in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. As of this writing, there were more than 900,000 confirmed cases of the virus across the world, with nearly 46,000 deaths reported.

COVID-19 has also reached North Idaho. There are 37 confirmed cases in the Panhandle, but only one has been reported in Bonner County. Public health officials believe there are more cases, as many do not report their symptoms or are asymptomatic.

Wheeler’s letter requests that Little call the Idaho legislature together to reconsider allowing churches the right to assemble, which he notes Texas Gov. Greg Albott recently did.

“I do not believe that suspending the Constitution was wise, because COVID-19 is nothing like the Plague,” Wheeler said. “We were misled by some Public Health Officials, and now it is time to reinstate our Constitution.”

Despite the order, some churches are still holding in-person services. Idaho Representative Tim Remington, who is also the pastor of the Alter Church in Coeur d’Alene, held two services on Sunday.

Violations of the stay home order are punishable by law. Police departments and sheriff’s offices enforce the order and have the right to issue citations and civil or criminal charges.

RELATED: N. Idaho lawmaker, pastor flouts stay-at-home order with church service

4 News Now reached out to Bonner General Health regarding the Sheriff’s statements. The hospital said it it committed to the safety of the community and has been following strict guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, which medical staff will continue to do moving forward and throughout the duration of the pandemic.

RELATED: Tracking COVID-19: A breakdown of the latest numbers in Washington and Idaho