With COVID-19 present changes are made in A.F.

Our City

by A.F. Mayor Marc Beitia

Last Monday COVID-19 made its presence known in Power County. With its presence I modified and restricted all work and personnel within the city. Those restrictions can be found on the city’s website.

Throughout the week I had numerous video and phone conferences regarding the pandemic; the most enlightening of which was a video call among most of the mayors in eastern Idaho. The primary topic of the discussion was trying to unify all the mayors present in a message to Governor Brad Little that would support the potential stay-at-home order beyond the current April 15 date should the science and healthcare providers deem it necessary. Probably, not surprising, that was not remotely possible. Many mayors still believe in the “hoax,” disregarding the science and healthcare recommendations within their respective regions.

I will say the majority was unified in supporting an extension should Gov. Little and his team deem it necessary, but it was barely a majority.

That discussion with the eastern Idaho mayors led me to suggest the very same thing in our joint Power County video conference last Friday. Not surprisingly perhaps, unanimous consent was achieved quite quickly. The resulting letter written by our Power County Prosecutor follows:

“Dear Governor Little,

We, the undersigned elected officials and leaders in Power County, write to thank you for your dedicated service and leadership during the current COVID-19 pandemic. We ask for that good leadership to continue despite the pressures you may feel to take what may appear to be an easier path. This pandemic has ignited social, economic, and healthcare issues that we as a State must face and overcome. We ask you to continue to listen to the advice of your public health and economic advisors, in finding creative ways to combat this virus through continued self-isolation, while assisting our businesses and citizens through the financial struggles they face.

This pandemic is a challenge unlike any other we have faced in our lifetimes. It has required dedication, sacrifice, and ingenuity from leaders on every level. It harkens back to an era when “the greatest generation” faced economic, political, and social conflict. That generation sacrificed much and dedicated themselves to preserving freedom and protecting their homes. We are now called upon to do the same. Here in Power County, we have observed great examples of leadership from our global, national, state, and local government, business, and religious leaders. We thank you for being one of those leaders.

As you are well aware, we face great economic challenges along with the current health crisis. There are some in various communities throughout our state who refuse to grasp the full measure of this crisis. We know that your decision to issue the State-wide Stay Home Order was a difficult one, but we support that decision and know that it was the right one. Despite pressure you may experience to the contrary, we ask that you continue to listen to and follow the counsel and guidance of your public health and economic advisors.

We support an extended stay home order if it is recommended by your public health advisors. Please continue any self-isolation provisions, as long as is necessary to help us defeat this virus. We know that this requires great sacrifice from our communities, but we also know that these sacrifices are temporary and the benefits of defeating this virus far outweigh the potential consequences for failing to respect the seriousness of this pandemic. It would be a great disappointment to have sacrificed so much already, if we do not persist on this path and protect our communities from the greater health and economic damage that would come from half-measures.

As you attempt to strike the balance between protecting the health and safety of all Idahoans we ask that you continue your exemplary efforts to assist Idaho’s business community. As you know, the businesses of Idaho are the life blood of our communities. They provide jobs, products, tax revenue, and unifying effects within our communities. We appreciate your efforts to provide state and federal relief to our local businesses. Please continue those efforts in earnest, along with our health and safety precautions.

With our Sincerest Thanks for your Leadership,”

The letter is signed by 17 elected and appointed leaders in Power County.

On Thursday of last week I was contacted by the city’s insurance provider’s executive director Amy Manning. Our insurance agency has secured COVID-19 antibody tests for all the public employees they insure. Those tests were made available to city employees this Monday. The test is less reliable for detection of early infection, one five day, but over 96 percent accurate beyond that and results are available in less than a day. With city personnel hopefully self-quarantined last week I am hopeful we can identify infections as early as this Tuesday. Those results may change my personnel order within certain departments given that last Friday three wastewater personnel had to be called in to begin repairs on a lift station behind the old Hirning building.

I commend all city personnel and our county’s leadership for their diligence in this effort and through this hard time. As citizens in our community I believe you are well served by all those who choose to serve in the public employ. Together we can and will find our way back to better days.

Last, but certainly not least, my sincerest thanks to the 25 volunteers who cooked and delivered Easter dinner to over 100 elderly, infirm or homebound community members this past Easter Sunday. I remain humbled to live in American Falls and Power County; the very best place to live.

Until next week…

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