Hailey Library Christmas Lights Dusk

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas." With a week to go until the holiday, much of Hailey--including the public library, pictured--is adorned with festive lights and seasonal decorations.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 1,340 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 statewide today, raising the grand total since March to 128,218. Of those, health officials continue to monitor an estimated 77,029 active cases.

The coronavirus is considered a contributing factor in the deaths of 1,275 Idahoans, 16 more than yesterday, according to the state.

Blaine County gained four new confirmed and one new probable case of the virus among residents today, raising local totals to 1,400 confirmed and 116 probable. Based on the most recent available data, the South Central Public Health District is monitoring 231 active cases in Blaine County.

So far this week, 944 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Idaho. Today's tally is 623 more than yesterday's.

Keep reading for news on St. Luke’s allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine, Idaho Democrats pushing for a postponement to the next legislative session, the quest to list the wolverine as an endangered species, and more top news from Friday, Dec. 18.

• St. Luke’s Health System received its first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday morning. Of the initial allotment of 975 doses of the vaccine, an undisclosed number is en route to St. Luke’s Wood River, with the local facility expecting to begin inoculating staff at greatest risk of exposure early next week.

• Idaho Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, has joined House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, in asking Republican leaders in the Idaho Legislature to postpone the 2021 legislative session until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available in the state.

• With self-described “extreme value retailer” Grocery Outlet slated for a new location in Hailey, the local nonprofit Hunger Coalition has decided to scupper plans for its own grocery store. Meanwhile, it continues to serve surging demand driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

• The Idaho Conservation League has joined a coalition of environmental groups to file suit against U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, objecting to the agency’s recent decision to deny long-sought protections to the wolverine under the Endangered Species Act.

• The city of Bellevue’s most recent financial statement shows that expenditures have been lower than expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

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