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Legislators Bring Hundreds to the Capitol Against Guidelines from the CDC and Department of Health

BOISE — This week, the Republican-led legislature convened a special session called by Gov. Brad Little to address voting in November, as well as liability issues regarding schools and other government entities in their pursuit of pandemic safety precautions. As soon as the session began, hundreds of people forced their way into areas that were sectioned off for legislators to maintain social distancing practices. 

Statement from Stephanie Long, Idaho Medical Director for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands:

“Mere days after family physicians and primary care providers publicly pleaded with Idaho’s lawmakers to enforce mask mandates and move back to Stage 1 of re-opening, the first day of the special session went against all the best guidance from the medical community to protect one another from this deadly virus. Planned Parenthood strongly condemns the actions of the unmasked protestors who forced their way into the capitol building, and we condemn the refusal from legislators to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure in the capitol. 

“Medical institutions have been pushed to the limits during this pandemic, and as a provider, we know we all must do everything we can to limit the spread of this virus. Idaho already ranks in the top 10 for infection rates and it is up to all of us to take the necessary precautions. I am committed to keeping my patients and my community safe, but the same can’t be said for our local leadership.”

Statement from Mistie Tolman, Idaho State Director for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawai‘i:
“The majority of our elected officials have failed the people they claim to represent by allowing protesters to endanger the lives of everyone present at the capitol — in the ‘People’s House.’ The protest represented a small percentage of extremist constituents, and yet, they were given carte blanche to make their own rules, invade the capitol, and flaunt their disregard for both the health and safety of those present and the statehouse’s rules and procedures.

“Several years ago, nearly 150 peaceful protesters for Add The Words were arrested for standing in the Capitol, blocking a doorway, asking for their civil rights to be added to the state constitution. This year, in contrast, militant extremists harassed officers of the law and broke a glass door; and yet, no arrests have been made. There is a clear difference between how the rights of the majority are upheld to the point of dismissing violent crime, while the rights of already marginalized people are held under tight scrutiny. Double standards are discrimination.

“We need our elected leaders to lead, be bold, and put people first, especially the Black and Latinx communities most impacted by this virus. This week’s display at the capitol is political theater and does nothing to support families, businesses, and communities in Idaho. There’s so much more to be done to address the physical, emotional, and economic damage caused by this virus and this special session is failing to respond.”