Central District Health did not receive enough votes to pass a proposed public health order for Ada, Boise, Elmore, and Valley counties. The vote was a 3-3 tie, causing the order to fail.
The order would have implemented a mask mandate and limited gatherings to 10 people or less. An existing health advisory for the four counties will remain in effect.
"It was disappointing to me that the vote did not pass, but again, I respect the process," CDH Board Member Ted Epperly said.
Epperly was one of the three 'yes' votes for the proposed public health order. He said one of the reasons he supported the order was to prevent overwhelming the health systems and avoid implementing crisis care standards.
"People will continue to get sick. That becomes an issue in terms of not having enough space in the hospitals to care not only for COVID-19 patients but all other patients," Epperly said.
He also expressed that this isn't about individuals but about the community since the virus can spread quickly.
"If we all could give ourselves a little bit of the protection of our neighbors and our community, we could all get through this better," Epperly said.
The three board members who voted 'no' on the order did not want to provide media comments.
During the meeting, they collectively said that they received public responses that strongly opposed a mandate, and they were voting per what the public wanted.
"You have to listen to the public, and the public is saying they don't want this," said CDH Board Member Elting Hasbrouck during Tuesday's meeting.
"We start working on a message about cooperation rather than compliance, and I think we're losing track of that. I think if we start focusing on getting more cooperation, more public interest in different methods to help control the spread, I think we're actually going to have a higher level of success," CDH Board Member Megan Blanksma added as well Tuesday.
The order could be on the table again if nothing seems to improve and hospitals reach a point of being wholly overwhelmed and overrun. Still, for now, the health advisories that were already implemented will remain in effect.
CDH has another regular board meeting on Friday at 5:15. Nothing is planned to be voted on during the meeting relating to any order. The health district will be discussing the vaccine in Idaho and more about distribution and what the public should expect.