Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Blaine County’s Fatalities Double, Wellness Conference Reschedules
The Idaho Transportation Department has begun to clear slides caused during last week’s earthquake west of Stanley. PHOTO: Idaho Transportation Department
Wednesday, April 8, 2020


The number of deaths from the coronavirus in Blaine County doubled on Tuesday.

Blaine County has now had four residents die from the killer virus. One of them was Warm Springs resident Leslie Rosenberg. A longtime resident, he died of COVID-19 Sunday afternoon in a Twin Falls hospital after being flown there on March 26, spending 10 days in intensive care.

While the number of deaths doubled, only five more cases were confirmed in the county from the day before. Blaine County now has 428 confirmed cases and Ada County 438.

Paul Ries has charted Blaine County’s latest numbers. “Is it too soon to get excited? All I can say is, ‘Good job, Blaine County.’ Now is not the time to let up, however,” said Ries.

The state’s tally rose to 1,210, up from 1,173 cases on Monday. Fifteen Idahoans have now died from the virus.

Health officials have said that the local hospital is admitting fewer cases but those that it is admitting tend to be sicker than earlier than a few weeks earlier.

“Unfortunately, one good set of numbers does not a trend make,” said Brianna Bodily with South Central Public Health District. “It’s still extremely important people practice social distancing, excellent and frequent hand washing and that they call health care providers if they begin to show symptoms.”

Bodily said South Central Public Health District reports confirmed COVID-19 cases as soon as a death certificate has been filed with the state confirming COVID-19 as the cause. There maybe a several-day delay in reporting the fatality, however, as happened with one of Blaine County’s this week, if the coroner has to perform an investigation to identify the cause.

Several major avalanches have been triggered since fresh snow fell Sunday and Monday. PHOTO: Idaho Transportation Department

Through it all, Wood River Valley residents threw open their doors at 8 p.m. Tuesday and howled in appreciation of their health care workers.

And 35 minutes later the pink supermoon rose over the Pioneer Mountains, bathing the valley with its light.

This is a reminder of the reason we live here, said Hailey resident Lisa Horton of nature's majesty on display.


Blaine County School buildings will remain closed through the remainder of the school year, Board President Keith Roark and Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes announced Tuesday.

The decision followed the Idaho State Board of Education’s decision to order a soft closure of all public and charter schools throughout the state.

All instruction will be delivered through a distance learning program, which teachers began rolling out on Tuesday.

The district will add a question-and-answer forum on its website by the end of the week for questions students and parents might have. Daily updates from the superintendent and board will also be posted on the district’s COVID-19 page. Questions and comments can be sent to

“We ask for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented and challenging times,” Roark and Holmes said in a joint statement. “Every member of our team is razor focused on our mission and, as they always have, our teachers will do whatever it takes to inspire, education, engage and empower every single student of this district.”


Ketchum’s Community Library is starting a Blaine County COVID-19 Story Archive.

“We recognize that we are living through an historic moment as the whole world confronts the spread of COVID-19,” wrote librarians. “Each individual community, and our central Idaho community, is impacted in particular ways by this pandemic Each community will give rise to unique stories. We are starting to collect this history now, as it unfolds in Blaine County.”

Submit items to or by phone at 208-806-2630 or 208-806-2635.

P.S. If you have a COVID-19 story or observation, Eye on Sun Valley wants to hear them, too. Email


Given the need for elbow space during this time of social distancing the Wood River Land Trust has decided to open its new Simon Bauer Preserve now, instead of later this summer, as had been planned.

Executive Director Scott Boettger said the Land Trust is seeing double the number of visitors on the Bow Bridge, which is part of the Hailey Greenway, this spring compared with last spring as people get outside to alleviate isolation.

But, with more people, comes more maintenance. So, opening up the new preserve will lessen the impact on other parts.

Boettger said the Land Trust hopes to build trails, parking and appropriate signage as it gets the funds.


Sun Valley Economic Development is conducting a Main Street Retail webinar at 3 p.m. Thursday, April 9. SVED will discuss how to navigate the disaster assistance available and how businesses can position themselves for recovery. Join the meeting at


The Sun Valley Wellness Festival & Conference has rescheduled from late June to Aug. 21-24. It will still feature Keynote Speaker Matthew Walker, as well as Nora McInerny, Dr. Zach Bush and Dr. Eben Alexander.


Four large avalanches have been triggered by humans in recent days, following five to 12 inches of new snow in the area. Fittingly, the final DIGGING DEEPER talk of the year will take place tonight—Wednesday, April 8--on Facebook Live. The program will feature backcountry ski guide Jonathan Preuss and Hailey City Council Member Sam Linnet talking about a close call they had when they triggered a large avalanche in the Lost River Range in 2019. Visit to tune in.


The Blaine County Recreation District is asking those with cabin fever to stay off muddy trails and roads right now to prevent damage. Trails are not being signed right now due to the stay-at-home orders.


Former gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist, an emergency physician-turned developer, hopes to ramp up testing capabilities. The testing starts today and is available to essential workers with mild symptoms, including health care workers, first responders, grocery store workers and delivery drivers.

Those who are tested should get their test results in two days. Results for positive cases will be shared with public health agencies to do contact tracing. Ahlquist said he hopes to do a thousand tests a day in order to give a clear picture of what’s happening in the state, to limit the spread of the virus and to allow essential workers to return to their jobs as soon as possible.

Go to for information.


Boise has adjusted its traffic lights after determining that traffic cycle lengths were too long given a 40 percent drop in traffic.


Boise National Forest officials have closed two popular hot springs—Kirkham and Pine Flats—to keep people from congregating. It also has closed the popular Stack Rock trail near Bogus Basin ski area and some campsites.


New Zealand has tried to stamp out the virus rather than simply contain it. To that effect, police have even ordered surfers out of waves, sending them home to stay in place.

And it’s appears to be succeeding, judging by an article in The Washington Post.  The majority of new cases—54 on Tuesday despite a huge increase in testing—can be linked to international travel. Only one person—an elderly woman with existing health problems—has died.

“Act if you have COVID-19,” said an emergency text sent to Kiwi residents. “This will save lives.”

  • Gunnison County officials are threatening fines of up to $5,000 and 18 months in jail for tourists who visit the county during the pandemic.

Apparently, the county was just as restrictive during the 1918 flu epidemic. It forbade residents to leave for four months and erected barricades outside town to keep travelers out. Those measures and arrests worked—the county lost none of its residents while neighboring towns lost 10 percent of their populations, according to NPR.


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