Idaho's lieutenant governor banned mask mandates while the governor was out of state

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Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin
Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger, File

While the governor's away, the lieutenant governor will play — or, in the case of Idaho's Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, she will issue an executive order prohibiting mask mandates, despite there never being a statewide ban.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) was in Tennessee on Thursday for a GOP conference, and during his absence, McGeachin — who announced last week she is running for governor in 2022 — banned mask mandates. McGeachin tweeted that she issued the order, which does not apply to hospitals, health care facilities, or federal buildings, "to protect the rights and liberties of individuals and businesses."

While some school districts and cities, like Boise, did have requirements for face coverings, the state has never had a blanket mask mandate. Idaho has reported more than 191,800 COVID-19 cases, with over 2,090 confirmed deaths.

The governor's office told KTVB that McGeachin did not let Little — who has not revealed if he will seek re-election — know ahead of time that she planned on issuing the order. "Idahoans value local control and the local approach to addressing important issues," Little's office said, adding that there will be "a thorough review of this executive action."

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