Gimlet Autumn

Locals can expect recent autumnal scenes to give way to wintry conditions this weekend, as the National Weather Service forecasts snow and below-freezing temperatures.

For only the second time ever, Idaho gained more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 in a single day today, according to the state Department of Health and Welfare. Friday's 1,073 new cases brought the total to 57,673.

Since last Friday, Idaho has gained nearly 6,000 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19. That's about 200 cases shy of the cumulative statewide case count for March, April, May and June combined.

Coronavirus has contributed to 562 deaths in Idaho, nine more than yesterday. One of those deaths was a Blaine County resident, according to the state. As of right now, the Express does not have any further information on that person. COVID-19 has contributed to the deaths of seven Blaine County residents.

Blaine County gained another 10 confirmed cases since yesterday for a total of 813 confirmed and 41 probable, of which the South Central Public Health District is monitoring 102 as active.

Keep reading for information on a possible murder-suicide in Bellevue, quarantine rates in the school district and Sun Valley’s plans for the winter ski season. Here are the top stories from Friday, Oct. 23.

• Idaho State Police are investigating a possible murder-suicide after a man and a woman were found dead in a Bellevue coffee shop last night. Information is extremely limited at this time, and officials could not share details of the deceased with the Express this morning.

“Words cannot express my true feelings right now,” Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns told the Express. “I feel confident knowing that the professional law enforcement agencies that are handling this will pay the utmost attention to detail and leave no stone unturned as they process exactly what led up to the deeply sad events of last night.”

As of Friday afternoon, Idaho State Police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower told the Express that ISP did not expect to release any more information on Friday, or over the weekend.

Gretel Kauffman and Mark Dee are working on that developing story here.

• Sixty-two students and 17 staff from the Blaine County School District were in quarantine last week after confirmed or suspected exposure to COVID-19, according to the school district’s coronavirus dashboard. On Wednesday, the school board discussed adopting a new matrix and decision tree to help guide reopening and closing decisions, with chairman Keith Roark expressing doubts over the usefulness of applying Blaine County’s risk assessment model to the school district.

• Sun Valley is planning to kick off its 85th winter ski season on Bald Mountain this Thanksgiving, Nov. 26. Like other Idaho ski resorts, Sun Valley is still developing the particulars of its COVID-19 safety precautions, but hopes to release those soon. None of the 18 ski resorts belonging to the Idaho Ski Areas Association plan to place limits on season-pass-holder visitations or require guests to make reservations online, according to that organization’s president Brad Wilson.

• Sun Valley’s plans develop ahead of an ambiguous winter season forecast from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. According to NOAA, the Wood River Valley has a roughly equal chance of having a drier-than-normal or wetter-than-normal winter, as well as a warmer-than-normal or colder-than-normal winter. Essentially, that is still up in the air. Conversely, the Farmers’ Almanac forecasts a cold, snowy winter for Idaho.

• On that topic, the National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for the Wood River Valley, with the weekend low forecast at 10 degrees and snow accumulation expected.

For more local and regional news, pick up a copy of today’s Idaho Mountain Express, or visit mtexpress.com at any time.