Sawtooth Botanical Garden Tour

People wore face masks and kept their distance while attending the Sawtooth Botanical Garden's annual garden tour on Saturday. Private home owners mid-valley welcomed guests to explore their gardens, like this one in Golden Eagle Ranch.

Idaho gained more than 1,400 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend. Today’s increase of 517 confirmed and probable cases left the statewide total at 18,694. Eight more people died with the virus since Friday, raising the Idaho death toll to 152.

Of the 18,694 total cases, 5,964 have recovered. Health officials are monitoring 12,578 active cases.

Over the weekend, Blaine County gained three more confirmed cases, bringing the local total to 563 confirmed and probable cases. Of those, eight are still being monitored by health officials. Though Blaine's infection rate has largely plateaued lately, local health officials have reiterated that high demand for tests and gaps in supply chains have yielded severe lags in test result turnaround time. According to Joy Prudek, public relations manager for St. Luke's Health System, the current delay stretches back to July 13, so local infection numbers may not the full story. 

Meanwhile, local governments continue to consider their budgets in light of the coronavirus, but many of the more immediate issues are environmental as drought conditions yield more and more fire warnings.

• In light of the economic impacts of lockdown, the city of Ketchum has put forth a tentative budget full of cuts, including to the Ketchum Police Department, Mountain Rides and Visit Sun Valley.

The Ketchum City Council will meet on Wednesday to review the $33.6 million budget.

• The Bellevue City Council will meet tonight to discuss starting a savings account to put aside $20,000 over three years to help secure a $62,000 grant from the Seagraves Foundation, which Bellevue will only receive if certain assurances are made that the city will continue to fund the program after the three-year grant expires.

• Blaine County seems locked in a perennial Red Flag warning as ongoing drought conditions put the area in danger of wildfires. Tomorrow’s expected weather patterns mean the Red Flag warning will last from noon until 10 p.m. Tuesday. The warning covers all of Blaine County as well as many surrounding areas.

With so many warnings coming, the Sawtooth National Forest took the opportunity to once again remind campers how to properly extinguish campfires. Last week alone, rangers put out 59 unattended campfires in the national forest.

• As if fires weren’t bad enough, the area around Stanley is also still recovering from a 6.5 magnitude earthquake that struck at the end of March. Wilderness rangers are still working to clear avalanche debris from popular trails around Redfish Lake.

• Looking for some evening entertainment? The Sun Valley Music Festival begins at 6:30 p.m. tonight. The program is free and available to stream from svmusicfestival.org. Music lovers may also attend the lawn of the Sun Valley Pavilion to enjoy the performance on the big screen there.

For more top local and regional news, look for a copy of Wednesday’s Idaho Mountain Express or visit mtexpress.com at any time.

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