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Idaho residents concerned about Utahns crossing state lines for lottery tickets during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 6:05 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 20:05:25-04

ONEIDA COUNTY, Idaho -- Residents along the border of Idaho and Utah have expressed concerns about Utahns crossing the state border during the pandemic to buy lottery tickets.

The U.S. Census estimates about 4,500 people live in Oneida County, Idaho. Bill Lewis, the county commissioner, said about 30% of those people are older than the age of 65.

“We have a hospital, but we may not be able to take the mass of COVID-19 patients when this hits,” said Lewis.

So far, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported out of Oneida County, but Lewis said many of his residents have expressed concern of Utahns coming to purchase lottery tickets.

“When it does peak, there are lines all over these convenient stores, I mean way around the stores because of the purchase of lottery tickets,” said Lewis.

Tickets that normally could bring in a lot of business now could bring in people exposed to COVID-19.

“It will probably be one of those things that could come from the outside,” said Lewis.

Spokesperson David Workman with the Idaho Lottery Commission wrote in a statement to Fox 13 that the stores selling lottery tickets are considered essential.

To his understanding, Workman said in his statement, these stores are limiting the number of people allowed in the store at one time.

“Social distancing, closing food courts and places where people congregate, and enhanced sanitization procedures,” wrote Workman.

Even with the increased safety measures in place, Lewis said he hopes both Utah and Idaho residents will heed the counsel from both State governors to stay home.

“We’re not trying to keep people out of our community,” said Lewis. “This virus will spread slower if we stay at home.”