Moscow ends face mask order

The Moscow City Council on Monday night lifted its public health emergency order, which required face masks and had been in effect since July 1, after the city met certain COVID-19 metrics established by health experts and local health entities.

Moscow’s face mask order has been terminated.

The Moscow City Council on Monday night lifted its public health emergency order, which required masks and had been in effect since July 1, after the city met certain COVID-19 metrics established by health experts and local health entities.

The order mandated face coverings be worn in public where 6-foot social distancing could not be maintained with nonhousehold members. Mayor Bill Lambert issued the order and the City Council extended it three times. The order was set to expire June 9.

Under the resolution passed Monday, the mayor and City Council strongly encouraged people that have not been vaccinated to continue to wear masks when distancing is an issue, and businesses can still require patrons to wear masks.

The council decided in November to use a Public Health – Idaho North Central District assessment tool to help determine whether to continue, extend or terminate the order.

The tool says that in order for the district — which includes, Latah, Nez Perce, Clearwater, Idaho and Lewis counties — to be placed in the “minimal risk” category, new daily cases must be less than one case per 10,000 people based on a seven-day moving average (for Latah County that would be four or fewer new daily cases); the number of confirmed COVID-19 hospital admissions districtwide must be zero to five based on a seven-day moving average; and test results must be reported in one to four days.

If all three of the criteria for Latah County were determined to be in the “minimal risk” category for three straight weeks, the council could reconsider the face mask order.

Latah County has met two of the three metrics. Average daily cases per week the last three weeks in the county were 4.86, 4 and 4.14, which is just above the four or fewer daily cases required to be minimal risk. Therefore, Latah County remains in the “moderate risk” category for COVID-19.

The health district, Moscow School District, University of Idaho and Gritman Medical Center provided favorable or neutral recommendations for terminating the order.

City Supervisor Gary Riedner said MSD Superintendent Greg Bailey told him the school district will continue to require face coverings until the end of the semester. Riedner said UI President Scott Green indicated the university has removed the face covering requirement on the UI campus and that Gritman will still require face coverings in its facilities.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fully vaccinated people can engage in indoor and outdoor activities either without face coverings or maintain physical distance. The local health district says about 46 percent of Latah County residents are vaccinated.

Lambert and all six councilors removed their masks after Lambert signed the resolution.

“We did what we needed to do to get to where we are now and we are on the cusp of being able to not have to wear these things all the time anymore,” Councilor Gina Taruscio said. “So take a moment, pat yourselves on the back and realize that it took all of us to do this.”

Sixteen new COVID-19 cases were reported Monday in Latah County, pushing the total to 3,165 cases, according to the health district’s website.

The new cases included two people younger than 5 years old, two people in the 13-17 age range, two people 18-29, three people in their 30s, five people in their 40s, one woman in her 50s and one man in his 60s.

Of the 3,165 cases, 3,002 are confirmed cases and 163 are probable. Ten people have died from the virus in the county, 3,034 have recovered and the remaining 121 are open.

Whitman County Public Health reported six new confirmed cases Monday, bringing the county total to 4,302. The health department’s website said Saturday and Sunday data will be reported today. As of Monday, 111 people in the county have been hospitalized with COVID-19 — up from 110 Friday. Deaths from the virus remained unchanged at 48.

In other business, the council:

-- Approved a planned unit development and preliminary plat for the Harvest Hills development.

-- Approved a preliminary plat for the Harvest Hills 2nd Addition.

-- Approved a development agreement, final planned unit development and final plat for the Gateway on Sixth development.

-- Increased the mayor’s salary from $2,028.50 per month to $2,119.78 per month and each city councilor’s salary from $703.28 per month to $734.93 per month. The salary adjustments will take effect Jan. 1.

Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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