A ‘Liberty’ Rebellion in Idaho Threatens to Undermine Coronavirus Orders


“I want the virus now,” Mr. Bundy said.

Mr. Wheeler, the Bonner County sheriff, said in his letter to the governor that the state needed to discuss how serious the threat was. “I do not believe that suspending the Constitution was wise, because Covid-19 is nothing like the plague,” he wrote.

Ms. Scott, while acknowledging the coronavirus outbreak as an emergency, sent a newsletter to constituents calling it “The Virus That Tried to Kill the Constitution.”

Doctors in Idaho have been concerned not only about the public calls for canceling the governor’s stay-at-home order, but also about comments that play down the danger of the virus. Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus, is a particular threat to people who are older or who have underlying conditions, as evidenced by a nursing home in Washington State where the virus contributed to dozens of deaths.

“If we stop doing what we’re doing, it could deteriorate so quickly, and our resources could be overwhelmed so quickly,” said Dr. Hurt, the emergency doctor at Bonner General Health. “It’s scary for the people in this community, and scary for us as hospital workers, to be inundated with that.”

Dr. Robert Burnett, the medical director for cardiovascular surgery at Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene, just south of Ms. Scott’s district, said he personally viewed the comments from the lawmaker and the sheriff as “criminal.” He said he was “horrified” that public officials would use their platforms to encourage behavior that threatens lives.

To Dr. Burnett, Ms. Scott and Mr. Wheeler have “relinquished their claim to a ventilator” should they get sick from the virus and need one — although he hastened to add that they would get complete care should they get sick.

While the region does not have very many patients — there have been about 50 cases in the panhandle — some medical workers said that may be because of limited testing; there could well be more undetected cases. Hospitals have been bracing for a potential surge.



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