Northern Idaho does have a long and storied history of anti-government activity, which has complicated efforts to contain a COVID-19 epidemic that has overwhelmed hospitals in the region’s strongly conservative environment. The site of a deadly 1992 conflict with federal agents just next to the Canadian border sparked the growth of radical right-wing teams across America. It was also the site of a long-running Aryan Nations movement, whose leader dreamed of creating a “White homeland” in the county that is now one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus disease outbreak.
Northern Idaho’s Anti-government Streak Hampers COVID’s Fight
As a result of the high volume of COVID-19 patients in northern Idaho hospitals, officials declared last week that institutions would be permitted to limit health treatment. “This is radicalism on a level that I have never seen before,” Tony Stewart remarked of those who refused to be vaccinated and refused to wear masks in public.
Stewart was a founder member of a Kootenai County Working Group on Human Relations, which fought the Aryan Nations for years and was instrumental in forcing the neo-Nazi organization into bankruptcy. According to county authorities, just 41 percent of the county’s 163,000 inhabitants were vaccinated entirely, a much lower figure than the state average of approximately 56 percent. “I’m practically dumbfounded in seeing so many individuals have abandoned care for their fellow beings.” In northern Idaho, anti-government sentiment is very prevalent.
Heather Scott, State Rep. a Republican representing Blanchard in the state’s northern region, turned down a request for an interview, claiming that reporters were lying. Earlier this year, Scott encouraged protesters to burn masks in communities across northern Idaho as well as the rest of the state. She is also one of the legislators who have promoted false material regarding COVID-19 on social media regularly. Stewart referred to staunch vaccination opponents as an “irrational portion of the society,” according to the New York Times.
However, not everyone believes that there is an issue. In a statement Friday, David Hall, 53, co-owner of a restaurant in Coeur d’Alene’s bustling downtown, said he “serves hundreds of customers per week, and I’ve done hear of nobody who’s been hospitalized.” Hall does know that news of crowded hospitals is a terrible business, and he claims his revenues have dropped as a result.
Don Kress, 65, of Coeur d’Alene, thinks Kootenai Health, the town’s main hospital, is overcrowded. For decades, residents of northern Idaho have been vocal in their opposition to the federal government. The Ruby Ridge standoff, located north of the town of Sandpoint, was the scene of the impasse. Randy Weaver and his family came to the region in the 1980s to get away from what they saw to be a corrupt society. Federal investigators started looking into the Army veteran’s potential connections to white nationalist and anti-government organizations after some time passed. Weaver was ultimately accused of selling two illegal sawed-off shotguns to a government informant, which led to his arrest. Weaver took refuge on his property in order to escape being apprehended. Randy Weaver was shot and injured by an FBI sniper the next day.