The restructured, online Sun Valley Forum will kick off on Monday, June 29, with a free virtual event called “Resilience Now: The Power of We,” in which community leaders from Blaine County and New York City discuss life as a COVID-19 hotspot and resilience on the path to recovery.

Both New York City and Blaine County had, at different times, the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the country, and though cases have largely plateaued locally, the East Coast metropolis continues to face devastation at the hands of the pandemic.

In light of the global health situation, this year’s fully digital Sun Valley Forum, organized by the Sun Valley Institute, will focus entirely on the theme of resilience and how communities can rebound from difficult times. As the summer progresses, the institute will hold more installments of the forum to address developing issues.

This first event, beginning at 3:30 p.m. Monday, will be moderated by Peter Horton, director and executive producer of NBC’s “New Amsterdam.”

“The word ‘resilience’ takes on new meaning, significance and urgency in the time of COVID-19,” Horton said. “We were not prepared for this pandemic. Why? What does that mean? What did that look like up close? What have we learned? Are we better fortified now to deal with what comes next? These questions and more will be the subject of a conversation between two health care workers on the front lines of this battle.”

Dr. Terry O’Connor, medical director for the Blaine County Ambulance District medical director, will be in conversation with Lisa Wing, head nurse of New York’s Bellevue Hospital.

“Based on our calculations, we believe 23 percent of Blaine County residents had COVID-19, one of the highest known rates of any small community in the world,” O’Connor explained. “As a tight-knit community, we responded well to slowing the spread of the disease and were able to emerge with a very low number of fatalities thanks to those efforts.

“Going forward, our actions can be scaled to inform global solutions for a successful response to slowing the spread of the disease.”

This event is free to attend and open to the public. Visit to register.

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