Hacked meeting, outside protest; Health board declines action on mandatory masks in North Idaho

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – In a meeting dominated by technical issues and hacked-in protests, the Panhandle Health Board declined to vote on requiring mandatory masks in the northern Idaho counties.

In the board meeting held on a Zoom call, the agency’s lead epidemiologist tried to lay out what he called the “exponential growth” of COVID-19, particularly in Kootenai County. But, someone hacked the slides in the presentation and wrote “no masks” over the charts and graphs. After several slides, the presentation was over and the board gave comments instead.

A protest was held outside of the meeting as well and cheering could be heard every time someone spoke out against a mask mandate.

Some of the members said they don’t support mandating masks. Others said the virus is dangerous, even to young children, and warned about growth and outbreaks in assisted living centers.

Panhandle Health reports 1,130 confirmed cases in the northern counties, with 966 cases in Kootenai County. Panhandle Health reports only one death.

During the meeting, Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger said his agency and other law enforcement agencies don’t have the time or capacity to enforce a mask mandate. Sheriff Wolfinger said a previous state order to require out-of-state visitors to quarantine was also unenforceable.

Some areas of Idaho have mandated masks, including the town of Moscow and Ada County, the largest county in Idaho.

The board ultimately decided to table the discussion until members could get more information and more board members in attendance.