The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 862 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 statewide today, raising the total since March to 61,785. Of those, an estimated 32,296 are considered active. State health officials consider coronavirus a contributing factor in the deaths of 599 Idahoans, 14 more than yesterday.
The state counted 17 confirmed and one probable case among Blaine County residents today, for totals of 840 and 43, respectively. Today's increase was among the highest in a single day reported for Blaine County since April, and part of an overall rising trend in October.
As of last night, the South Central Public Health District was still monitoring 114 cases in Blaine County, and has not yet updated its data for today.
Keep reading for more on a suspected murder-suicide in Bellevue, students and staff quarantining within the school district, hospitalization rates in the region and more top news from Wednesday, Oct. 28.
• Police continue to investigate a suspected murder-suicide after Bellevue residents Ashley Midby, 34, and Jared Murphy, 28, were found dead in the office area adjacent to a Bellevue coffee shop Thursday evening. Midby worked at the coffee shop and Murphy was a Hailey police officer and Bellevue mayoral candidate. The deceased were “well known to each other,” Idaho State Police said.
In the wake of the incident, community members flooded the coffee shop with flowers, notes and remembrances, forming a makeshift memorial for Midby. Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns said the city is assisting the family in organizing a candlelight vigil in Midby’s memory for Friday night. Details are forthcoming.
The investigation is ongoing and neither ISP nor the county coroner can confirm many details.
• With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surging, the South Central Public Health District hosted a virtual meeting with medical professionals, elected officials and other community leaders to discuss the “critical” transmission risk calculated in seven of the district’s eight counties. Dr. Joshua Kern, vice president of medical affairs for St. Luke’s in the Magic Valley, Jerome and the Wood River Valley, reported that the St. Luke’s hospital in Twin Falls is being “overwhelmed” with patients.
• Fifty-five students and 20 staff members in the Blaine County School District were in quarantine due to suspected or confirmed exposure to COVID-19, according to the latest updates on the district’s coronavirus dashboard. Roughly half of those students attend Wood River Middle School or Wood River High School. Staff members from every school in the district except the Hemingway STEAM School and Silver Creek High School were among those quarantined.
• Earlier in the week, the Express reported on Gov. Brad Little’s decision to revert the state back to Stage 3 of his economic rebound plan. Our reporters have some more information on that now, including how regional hospitalization rates may have influenced the governor’s move.
• Looking for something a little lighter this evening? Students from the Wood River High School drama department will be getting in the mood for Halloween tonight with a livestreamed performance of Orson Welles’ iconic radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds.” Tonight’s is the first of three livestreamed shows before the students appear on the radio Saturday night.
For more local and regional news, pick up a copy of today's Idaho Mountain Express, or visit mtexpress.com at any time.