Starbucks Ketchum

Starbucks in Ketchum took its business curbside last week to abide with the states' updated stay-at-home order. 

Blaine County no longer has the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the nation—but it’s still in the top ten, Blaine County Ambulance District Medical Director and ER Physician Dr. Terry O’Connor said during a digital town hall Wednesday night. As of 5:34 p.m., Blaine County had 477 lab-confirmed and seven probable cases of COVID-19, according to the South Central Public Health District. Of those cases, 39 were still being monitored by health professionals. Here’s more on that, and the rest of your headlines from April 22.

• Local officials, health care workers and economic experts convened digitally on Wednesday night to discuss the state of the coronavirus outbreak—and its effect on Blaine County’s economy. The message: Both have been dire for the past month and could be again, despite some glimmers of hope.

O’Connor said Blaine County still has the country’s eighth highest cumulative per-capita infection rate. That said, he’s been pleasantly surprised by the relatively low mortality rate of the disease, which he credits to the area’s health care capacity.

On the business side, Sun Valley Economic Development Executive Director Harry Griffith estimates the county’s unemployment rate has risen to around 23 percent since the outbreak intensified and isolation orders went into effect. There are some reasons for optimism, too, as workers return to the job and government relief programs find their marks. Still, it could be a difficult summer, and, possibly, winter ahead.

For full coverage, check mtexpress.com tomorrow.

• Gov. Brad Little plans to address the state in a press conference from 11 a.m. until noon on Thursday. He’s expected to talk about his plans for the state’s stay-at-home order, which is slated to expire on April 30. Check Friday’s edition of the Express for full coverage of the call.

• Announced by Ketchum on April 8, a start date for antibody testing—and its corresponding study—is still unknown, according to organizers. That’s because the testing hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, our Alejandra Buitrago writes. Click here to learn more, including what the study could accomplish once it gets up and running.

• The county’s COVID-19 incident management team, which convened to triage response during the initial brunt of the coronavirus outbreak, is taking a step back as the local curve appears to flatten. It won’t dissolve though, just change its mission. Now, it is focusing on a possible second wave of the disease, Gretel Kauffman writes.

• Here’s a positive story. A recent Sun Valley Community School grad returned home from college at the start of the outbreak, and reconnected with his alma mater to 3D print face shields for first responders. Click here to read about Oliver Guy’s effort to help.

As of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Idaho had 1,802 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, 36 more than yesterday, according to the state Department of Health and Welfare. Fifty-four people have died. You can read more in today’s edition of the Idaho Mountain Express, or check back with mtexpress.com for updates.

Email the writer: mdee@mtexpress.com

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