Local news. Locally owned.
We put readers first.

Sun Valley area holds town hall on COVID: How the resort area is unique and what it plans

Idaho's Biggest Toy Drive
Future in Focus: Sun Valley

Blaine County held a virtual town hall meeting Thursday night to go over the area’s COVID-19 status.  

Similar to most counties in Idaho, Blaine County’s positive case numbers are growing. It is averaging 32.9 cases, per 100,000 residents. 

[Data shows shifts in Ketchum economy this year in wake of pandemic]

Dashboard 

Blaine created a COVID-19 risk level assessment and dashboard that is somewhat unique to the county. The assessment tells the community if Blaine’s risk is green (minimal), yellow (moderate), orange (high) or red (severe). It looks at case numbers per 100,000 on a seven-day average.

The tool looks at positive rate, hospital capacity, testing time and several other factors. 

- Story continues below -
Mutual of America
landproDATA

Commissioner Angenie McCleary says that they created the unique plan to continue to be proactive and because of Blaine’s different situation. 

“We have a somewhat different population than the other counties in our district,” she said. “We have a lot of visitors, we have a lot of second homeowners we have commuters. And so we need to make sure that we do everything we can to keep our community healthy and safe.”

Two differences on the Blaine County’s dashboard, compared to Central District Health, is it is updated weekly rather than biweekly. It also requires fewer cases to move into different risk levels. 

Resurgence

Dr. Terrence O’Connor, St. Luke’s Wood River emergency medicine physician, says that this summer if the risk assessment existed Blaine would have been in the yellow, the moderate area. Now, the dashboard indicates that Blaine County falls under the red level. 

“If I was able to test everybody who was just starting to get sick at the end of February into early March, one week before we actually had stay at home orders… we had about 47 cases over a seven day period of time,” he said. “We’ve had 53 over seven day period of time in our last analysis. That should be concerning.”

Blaine County School District 

This fall Blaine County School District had four staff members and 16 students test positive. Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes says it is common to have 50 to 100 students and staff members out quarantining because they were exposed to COVID-19. 

“I will let you know that we have three cases that we feel like transmission occurred in the school,” she said. “So we are not immune from this. But so far, we have kept it fairly low.”

Schools closed for a couple of weeks in the spring, then resumed online. Holmes reports that the high school students are about back to where they left off in the curriculum. However, she says the elementary students are behind and now the staff is concentrating on instructing literacy and mathematics.

Rapid tests 

- Story continues below -
Mutual of America
landproDATA

Blaine County received “quite a few” antigen rapid tests. The tests are for school staff, students, the uninsured population, and frontline providers. 

“We are going to work with the local hospital as well to distribute some of those test kits,” Melody Bowyer, director of South Central Public Health District said. “So yes, those we’ll be widely available. We should have plenty test kits for the schools. The antigen tests are for symptomatic testing. So it’s only for people that are showing up with symptoms.”

Looking forward

Once a COVID-19 hot spot, Blaine County does not want to get back to that point.

City officials emphasized the importance of wearing masks, following social distancing rules and other COVID-19 guidelines.

“We all want to enjoy the fall, and winter and support each other,” Commissioner Jacob Greenberg said. “So let’s take care of ourselves and each other. We suppressed it before and we can do it again. Stay safe and reach out. If you need help we’re here to support you. Just let us know what you need.”

Autum Robertson
Autum is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Ketchum, McCall and general news. Contact her at autum@boisedev.com.

COVID spreads in Boise homeless shelters: one Boise Rescue Mission guest and staffer dead

Eight months after Idaho announced it’s first case of COVID-19, the pandemic is hitting Boise’s homeless community harder than ever.  In the past two weeks,...

‘I have never, ever felt this ill:’ Ahlquist, family contract COVID-19

By Nicole Camarda / Idaho News 6 Crush The Curve co-founder Tommy Ahlquist brought the first public COVID-19 tests to Idaho last spring. Now he...

Bogus Basin will open for pass holders this weekend

Bogus Basin will open this Friday for the 2020-221 ski season, and because of enough snowfall, all ten lifts will be available.  “This has been...

City of McCall sends out COVID-19 advisory ahead of the holiday

The City of McCall sent out a COVID-19 advisory ahead of the holiday weekend. McCall has collaborated with Cascade Medical Center, St. Luke’s McCall, McCall...

Popular

Jimmy Kimmel live in Idaho: comedian buys fly fishing lodge

Late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel just started taking each summer off from his talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live. Perhaps he's spending a...

‘Renovicted’: Boise renters report displacement from renovations as landlords seek higher rents

Carly Morisette is on the hunt for a new home just in time for the holidays.  Six and a half years after she moved into...

Push and Pour flows up river to Downtown Boise location

Push & Pour, the Garden City coffee, tea and breakfast joint will swim up river. Co-owner Brennan Conroy sad they will open a...

Developer of former Plantation club hopes to bring golf to Boise River ‘island’

As part of the redevelopment of the former Plantation Country Club in Garden City, the developer began exploring the use of an area in...

Related

New project in Wood River Valley to increase affordable housing options

Officials and developers broke ground on a new project aimed at helping people find affordable homes in Hailey.  The project called Blaine Manor Family and...

Blaine Co. leader reflects on pandemic and recovery so far in Sun Valley area

Just days after Idaho’s Governor Brad Little declared a state of emergency, Blaine County had its first case of community spread.  With county and mayors...

Hard hit Blaine County prepares for phase one, hopes to ‘open responsibly’

By Natasha Williams, Idaho News 6 April 30 is the last day of the governor's stay at home order, and cities across the state are...
SERVPRO Certified

Latest

Developer of former Plantation club hopes to bring golf to Boise River ‘island’

As part of the redevelopment of the former Plantation Country Club in Garden City, the developer began exploring the use of an area in...

City of Boise scales back plans for housing ‘bonus’ ahead of hearing

The City of Boise made changes to its newest affordable housing proposal after taking public input.  On December 14, Boise’s Planning & Zoning Commission will...

Free crowdfunding training available to Idaho businesses impacted by COVID-19

Idaho businesses looking to raise some cash to fund their business during the pandemic have a new resource.  Through a partnership between Crowdfund Better and...

‘Renovicted’: Boise renters report displacement from renovations as landlords seek higher rents

Carly Morisette is on the hunt for a new home just in time for the holidays.  Six and a half years after she moved into...

‘Albertsons Prime?’ What grocer’s CEO says about a possible membership program

Could Albertsons Companies join retail behemoth Walmart with an Amazon Prime-type offering? BoiseDev asked Vivek Sankaran, CEO of the Boise-base retailer about it earlier this...

More people flock to real estate jobs as housing market booms

As Idaho’s real estate market booms, the ranks of real estate agents in the Gem State continues to grow right along with it. In November,...