Amid virus surge, Boise-area health board cancels meeting after too few members show up

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The Central District Board of Health was forced to adjourn less than a minute into its monthly meeting on Friday, after only two members showed up. The board didn’t have enough members present to proceed.

Only Valley County Commissioner Elt Hasbrouck and Board Chair Betty Ann Nettleton were present for the meeting, leaving the board two members short of the four required to conduct a public meeting. There are seven total members in all.

Central District Health spokesperson Rachel Garceau said members Jane Young and Raul Labrador, the latter of whom is running for attorney general, had informed the staff ahead of time that they wouldn’t be able to attend.

From left, Central District Board of Health member Betty Ann Nettleton, Central District Health Director Russ Duke, and board member Elt Hasbrouck meet Friday for the board’s monthly meeting. The meeting was adjourned seconds later because of a lack of quorum.
From left, Central District Board of Health member Betty Ann Nettleton, Central District Health Director Russ Duke, and board member Elt Hasbrouck meet Friday for the board’s monthly meeting. The meeting was adjourned seconds later because of a lack of quorum.

Board member Megan Blanksma, a state representative from Hammett and the Idaho House Republican caucus chair, was also absent. The Legislature is in session, and Garceau said Blanksma had notified the board her attendance was tentative.

Boise County Commissioner Ryan Stirm told the Idaho Statesman by phone that his wife had emergency gallbladder surgery and that he could not attend.

Dr. Ryan Cole, who represents Ada County, arrived at the Central District Health office in Boise nearly five minutes after the meeting had already been adjourned, Garceau said.

Hasbrouck, who made the hour-and-a-half drive south to Boise from his hometown of Cascade, said he was “disgruntled” by the lack of attendees.

“I’m kind of amazed that these other board members aren’t able to show up or at least Zoom in,” he said. “It’s a responsibility that I take very seriously, and I think other board members should too.”

Garceau said the board is required to reschedule the meeting within 14 days and that a new date will be announced in the coming days. She said it’s rare for the board to have so few members in attendance. Members can attend in-person or virtually.

The board was scheduled to vote on a new employee handbook and a meeting schedule for 2022, according to the agenda, as well as a discussion the status of the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccinations in the district.

Idaho is undergoing its largest daily number of COVID-19 cases so far, with a seven-day moving average of 2,283 cases as of Thursday, according to Idaho Statesman figures. The state has a positivity rate, the proportion of people tested for COVID-19 who come back with a positive test, of 34.1% for the week ending Jan. 9, the highest rate of the pandemic so far.