Monday, June 1, 2020
Swiftsure Ranch to Salute Health Care Workers
Four days after fighter jets performed an aerial salute to health care workers, six ponies and horses will hoof it around St. Luke’s Wood River to show their appreciation to health care workers.
Tuesday, May 19, 2020


A salute on four hooves will take place at St. Luke’s Wood River today.

Three ponies and three riding horses from Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center south of Bellevue will honor health care workers with a trot around the hospital campus at 1 p.m. today—Tuesday, May 19.

The horses will be sporting their Swiftsure blankets. No word on whether they will be wearing face masks.

Paul Ries added no new cases to the COVID Curve of Blaine County on Monday.

“The idea is to thank health care workers,” said Board Member Elizabeth Bunce. “We just thought that no one had done a horse walk-by, as far as we know. Hopefully, it’ll bring cheer.”

Swiftsure Ranch has been closed since March 16. The ranch received Paycheck Protection money so no one had to be laid off.

A skeleton crew has been taking care of the horses.

“The horses have enjoyed an easy life, some vacation time, as well,” said Executive Director Paul Bennett.

Swiftsure hopes to reopen on June 1 in a “very conservative way,” Bennett said. Some of the more independent riders will be allowed back in early summer with riders and horses spaced out on the property and riders and staff wearing masks.

The ranch hopes to welcome all of its participants, including those who need more assistance, back by Aug. 1.

“We can’t hold the Cowboy Ball fundraiser in July so we’re trying to figure out what else we might do when we do open,” said Bunce.


Abbott ID NOW Rapid Tests have come under fire after New York University researchers published a preprint that found up to 48 percent of the results from nasal swabs produced false negatives.

St. Luke’s Wood River started using the Abbott ID Now a month ago. At the time St. Luke’s started using the test, Abbott manufacturers cautioned that the tests need to be performed in a certain way to eliminate false negatives.

Local hospital officials are confident about their test results.

“We are running the testing in our laboratories, not point of care. We have done a correlation study, and we’re not finding false negatives in the correlation so far,” said Michele Harris, St. Luke’s Health System lab director.


Some valley residents are being asked to be tested for COVID-19 prior to eye examinations and other health care visits. The best way to arrange the right test is to contact your primary care provider, says Joy Prudek, public relations manager for St. Luke’s Wood River


The Gem State gained 19 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, bringing its total to 2,455. Two new deaths were reported bringing the death toll to 75. One of those was a non-Hispanic white female over the age of 80 in Twin Falls County. That county has tallied 15 deaths. The other was in Ada County, which has recorded 23 deaths.

Happily, there were no new cases in Blaine County, which held steady at 508.


A Boise man tracking what people are spending since the coronavirus pandemic started says that bicycle sales are up 200 percent, as is alcohol sales. Gun sales and ammunition sales have also skyrocketed, said Dan Price, the CEO of Boise-based Gravity Payments.

Price told KTVB that restaurant sales are down 60 percent after bottoming out at 77 percent and that restaurants using online ordering systems are doing double the businesses of those that are not. Clothing sales is also down 70 to 80 percent, and many events or travel businesses have gone down to zero.


Voters have requested more than 320,000 ballots so far, meaning we could see potentially record returns. Only 232,160 votes were cast in March’s presidential primary.

Requests for absentee ballots are due on Tuesday, May 19. Ballots must be received by county elections office by June 2, the day they will be counted.

To request an absentee ballot, visit Or, simply email


Silverwood Theme Park near Coeur d’Alene will open May 30 in accordance with the state’s Stage Three reopening guidelines. Attendees must buy passes online to enable park officials to control the number of people in the park on a given day. And Plexiglass barriers will be in place in eating areas while sanitation wipe-downs will be used in between ride cycles.


One county fair isn’t going to let the coronavirus pandemic deprive people of their food-on-a-stick.  The Stark County Fair in Canton, Ohio, is holding a Fair Food Drive Thru this week. Drive right up and help yourself to Amish-style donuts, Dippin’ Dots, Boylan’s Steak on a Stick and more.

But no congregating. Fair fans must take their food home to consume.


Dang! Mountain lions don’t seem to take this social distancing thing seriously!

Fish and Game officers had to dispatch an adult male mountain lion on the LDS church grounds near 49th St. and Stanfield Lane in Idaho Fall this week. The lion was euthanized after he showed no fear of humans and made no attempt to flee the area.

Idaho has never had a recorded incident of a mountain lion killing a person. But a jogger and a bicyclist were killed by mountain lions in Oregon and Washington in 2018.


Harvard University researchers are warning that only eight states meet the recommendations to begin reopen, even though all but two states have begun that process.

The eight states that have met the recommendations are Montana, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia.

“This is not playing Russian Roulette,” Chicago’s mayor Lori Lightfoot warned church-goers who planned to flout her stay-home orders. “This is playing with a gun that’s fully loaded.”


NFL teams can begin reopening their facilities today if state and local governments allow it.  They must have no more than half their staff in the facility, not to exceed 75 people, at one time.

To ensure equity among all 32 teams, no members of the coaching staff can return to the facility under the first phase of reopening, and no players may be in the facility other than those undergoing rehab or other medical treatment.


A hair salon owner in Salem, Ore., has been fined $14,000 for reopening her salon 10 days ahead of the May 15 date the governor outlined as the days such businesses could reopen.



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