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Blaine County’s COVID Rate Rises, Exercise Prescribed During Pandemic
Sun Valley Ski Patrol Director and Supervisor Mike Davis and Michael Desler mask up with a Sun Valley buff as they seek to keep Sun Valley Resort open during the 2020-21 winter season.
Sunday, January 10, 2021


Last week was a blissful week, thinking we had taken a step in the fight direction.

But Blaine County’s average new COVID case rate is on the rise again.

The county has moved back into the high-risk category for the potential for community spread after spending a week at moderate levels.

The positivity and daily case rates both increased during the week between Dec. 27 and Jan. 2,  indicating the increase in cases is not just the result of increased testing. And public health district officials are investigating an active outbreak in one long-term care facility

The average new cases per 100,000 cases more than doubled to 19.2 after being 8.1 the week before. That, however is still better than the 34.8 new cases and 57.1 new cases per 100,000 in mid-December.

Blaine County’s test positivity rate is now 6.33 percent, up from 4.33 percent the week before. Health officials like to see that rate below 5 percent.

There were 8 new cases between the ages of 18 and 29 and 7 between 40 and 49 between Dec. 27 and Jan. 2. There were 4 new cases in each of three categories: 70-plus, 50-59 and 30-39.

There were two new cases between the ages of 14 and 17 and two between the ages of 0 and 10. There were no new cases in those between the ages of 60 and 69 and 11 and 13.


Being homebound and sedentary for long periods of time due to life during a pandemic can cause health problems, weakening the heart and lungs and impairing brain function.

It can take months to build muscle and one week to lose it, especially as we grow older. And strength is one of the strongest indicators of how long we’ll live, according to Keith Baar, professor of molecular exercise physiology at the University of California-Davis.

If you don’t exercise, you don’t raise your heart rate, Barr says. And when your heart isn’t pumping hard, it gets weaker. Ditto for lung health.

Exercise also produces certain chemicals in the brain that break down toxins in the blood, preventing them from killing brain cells.


Park rangers at Yellowstone National Park have had to contend with wind gusts blowing masks off people’s faces into the park’s geysers. Park rangers say they are finding masks among hats, water bottles and even sunglasses in the geysers this year.

Last year park officials found 16,406 pieces of trash and personal belongings in the Midway Basin Geyser alone.


Idaho has been ranked the Top Moving Destination of 2020, according to United Van Lines. More people moved to Idaho than out during 2020—70 percent of moves were inbound.

Idaho was followed by South Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, Arizona, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Arkansas. And, yes, United Vans’ study found that a lot of the moves were influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the new home purchases was that of what is now Idaho’s most expensive home—a compound on Coeur d’Alene Lake near Worley that sold for $27.5 million. Built in 2011, it includes a 16,620-square-foot home, a 2,400-square-foot boathouse for eight boasts, a private helipad and two airplane hangars at the Coeur d’Alene Airport.


Representatives of Pfizer say that new research from a team at the University of Texas suggests their vaccine can protect against a mutation found in two new highly contagious variants of the coronavirus that were initially found in Britain and South Africa. Both share a mutation called N501Y, a small alteration on one spot of the spike protein that coats the virus.


Thirty-five percent of new COVID cases come from pre-symptomatic people who are not yet showing symptoms, according to a new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). People can have the virus for up to 14 days before showing symptoms, but symptoms typically appear four to five days after exposure.

Research suggests that people are most contagious within two days of the time they show symptoms.

Another 24 percent of new cases come from asymptomatic people—those who never display symptoms.


Community MasquerAid has made more than 4,580 masks for the Wood River Valley since the pandemic started. The workforce, started by Barbara Knowles has included 70-plus sewers, 30 Compassionate Leader volunteers. Also instrumental was Bill Amaya of Beyond Wood LLC.

The masks have gone to NAMI, The Crisis Hotline, The Cove of Cascadia, The Advocates, The Hunger Coalition, St. Luke’s Wood River, Idaho Base Camp, the Blaine County Recreation District’s summer camps, Mountain Rides and its Safe Routes to School Program, the Bellevue Public Library and various restaurants and hairdressers.

The Hunger Coalition alone distributed 2,270 of the masks.

Requests for the masks have decreased as commercial masks have become more widely available.



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