Kootenai County Commissioners will not participate in mask campaign

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — The Kootenai County Board of Commissioners quickly shut down the idea of using CARES Act funding to participate in a mask campaign.

Mayor Steve Widmyer approached Commissioner Chris Fillios about the campaign, though there was no formal proposal. At their meeting Monday, the board quickly agreed they did not want to use the stimulus money for that purpose.

“I’m not interested in it,” said Commissioner Leslie Duncan. “If all these agencies are putting money towards it, I think the whole county is covered.”

Several cities, hospitals and schools districts have agreed to participate in the campaign, including Kootenai Health, North Idaho College and SD 271.

That said, money from local school districts wouldn’t be used to fund the campaign.

According to emails sent to 4 News Now by the Board of County Commissioners Communications Manager, Coeur d’Alene city councilwoman Kiki Miller sent an email last week to participating agencies. She sent a proposal about the second phase of the mask campaign.

“We anticipated that in phase 2 of the campaign we would be encouraging continued safe practices with an emphasis on keeping our schools open, but with a stronger, more direct message,” Miller told 4 News Now. “This phase is on hold.”

She said the three-month campaign would rely more on digital ad placement, social media and more. Miller said this phase would cost $68,000.

The markets are segmented into different groups that would be targeted differently, have different message points and different budget figures,” she said in the e-mail.

That’s when the mayor asked Fillios if the county has any CARES Act funding to help.

In July, the Panhandle Health District voted to approve a mask mandate in the county, though it is largely ignored and not enforced.

“I think people know enough to know that if they want to protect themselves they can mask and it’s just as simple as that,” Fillios said.

Miller who has spearheaded the campaign since July, said the campaign would be on social media and through other traditional avenues. Billboards and signs are already up around Coeur d’Alene.

All of this comes as Kootenai County and North Idaho in general deal with an influx of cases.

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