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News >  Idaho

Kootenai County sheriffs postpone public meeting over local COVID-19 surge

Aug. 11, 2021 Updated Wed., Aug. 11, 2021 at 7:21 p.m.

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office postponed a public commission meeting after a spike in COVID-19 cases in North Idaho caused concern that a crowded meeting would spread the virus.

Kootenai County Sheriff’s Lt. Ryan Higgins said the department decided Tuesday to cancel a planned Optional Forms of Government Study Commission meeting, which had been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, after they saw how many hospitals in the Inland Northwest had full capacity due to the coronavirus.

“We thought this topic was going to draw in a lot of people,” Higgins said. “We felt it was probably not prudent to have a bunch of people in a room together.”

Though the concern over hospital capacity caused a delay for this meeting, Higgins said the sheriff’s office itself has not seen a major spike in COVID-19. Of the 300-plus employees, only five have contracted the virus, Higgins said. The number of people with the sheriff’s office who are vaccinated was unclear, and the sheriff will not mandate vaccines or masks.

“As far as mandates go, that’s not going to happen at this point,” Higgins said.

This comes as law enforcement departments in both Kootenai and Spokane counties are discussing how to combat new cases without requiring employees to wear masks or get vaccinations.

The Spokane Police Department also has not released information about vaccination rates or COVID-19 cases in officers. Julie Humphreys, spokesperson with the department, said there will not be a vaccine or mask mandate.

“Just like anything else, that’s private medical information,” Humphreys said. “I can tell you, though, we’re not having an outbreak.”

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