- Idaho’s Governor Brad Little has issued a statewide stay-at-home order for 21 days following an explosion of COVID-19 cases
- Many prominent figures in Idaho believe the order violates their constitutional rights to peacefully assemble
- Militia leader Aamon Bundy has urged the public to join a mass gathering scheduled for Easter Sunday in Boise
- Bundy is best known for his armed takeover of a wildlife refuge in Oregon that led to a 41-day standoff with authorities
A militia leader is rallying people to attend a mass gathering in Idaho on Easter Sunday in defiance of the governor’s orders to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a report in The New York Times Tuesday, Aamon Bundy says he and his allies are willing to ‘physically defend’ the event, which is scheduled to take place in the city of Boise and could attract upwards of 1,000 people.
‘I will be there, and I will bring as many people as I can,’ Bundy reportedly told a group of supporters on March 26, a day after the state’s stay-at-home order was issued.
‘We will form a legal defense for you. We will perform an active political defense for you. And we will also, if necessary, provide a physical defense for you, so that you can continue in your rights.’
Idaho has recently experienced an explosion of COVID-19 cases, and now has more confirmed cases per capita than California. 13 people across the state have died from the highly-contagious virus.
The alarming statistics prompted Governor Brad Little to issue the stay-at-home order for 21 days, stating that he was following the guidance of public health experts.
However, Bundy, who is best known for his armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge in 2016, believes that such an order violates the constitutional rights of US citizens.
‘If it gets bad enough, and our rights are infringed upon enough, we can physically stand in defense in whatever way we need to,’ Bundy is quoted as telling followers at a recent meeting.
The militia leader also stated that he has no concerns about contracting COVID-19, claiming it is not dissimilar to the flu.
Meanwhile, other public figures in Idaho have also expressed skepticism about the virus, and disdain for the new stay-at-home orders, which they believe is drastic government overreach.
Bonner County Sheriff Darryl Wheeler recently posted an open letter urging people to continue with business as normal if they feel healthy enough.
‘I do not believe that suspending the Constitution was wise, because Covid-19 is nothing like the plague,’ he wrote.
Republican Representative Heather Scott, has allegedly encouraged locals to push back against the government order.
Rep. Scott reportedly sent a newsletter to constituents which called COVID-19 ‘The Virus That Tried to Kill the Constitution’, before claiming that they had ‘a God-given constitutionally protected right to peacefully assemble.’
The vocal defiance has alarmed many healthcare workers in the largely rural state, who say that most hospitals are unprepared for the rise in cases.
‘If we stop doing what we’re doing, it could deteriorate so quickly, and our resources could be overwhelmed so quickly,’ one doctor told The Times.
As of Monday, Idaho had 1,170 cases of COVID-19. There are nearly 400,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the US, with a majority of states locked down in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.