Idaho gained another 470 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 today, according to the state Department of Health and Welfare. That brings the total case count to 36,959. Health officials estimate 19,915 have recovered. The state counted four more coronavirus-related deaths today, leaving the death toll at 438.
According to the health department, Blaine County gained its 600th confirmed COVID-19 case today, adding another three to the local total. The probable count remains at 24.
Read on for more about the Badger Fire, a banner salmon return at Pettit Lake and Donald Trump Jr.’s recent visit to Smiley Creek. Here are those and other top news items from Friday, Sept. 18.
• Twin Falls County Sheriff Tom Carter issued an Emergency Evacuation Order for residents of the Rock Creek Drainage Area this morning as the Badger Fire near Oakley continues to grow. Eastside Southern Baptist Church in Twin Falls and the Twin Falls County Fairgrounds have been established as shelters for evacuees. The 35,706-acre blaze is zero percent contained.
Meanwhile, the Trap Fire near Stanley grew from 420 acres yesterday to 3,000 acres this morning. That fire is burning on both sides of state Highway 21, prompting partial road closures.
Investigators are still working to determine the causes of both fires.
• In more positive news, a record number of natural spawning sockeye salmon have returned to Pettit Lake after completing an epic roundtrip journey to the Pacific Ocean and back. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho Rivers United and other organizations and individuals have worked tirelessly for decades to restore the at-risk species to healthy population levels. They still have a long way to go, but this year’s salmon return is an important and greatly encouraging milestone.
• Donald Trump Jr. and his partner Kimberly Guilfoyle attended a private fundraising dinner near Stanley on Tuesday. While helicoptering from Hailey to Stanley, the president’s eldest son stopped off in Smiley Creek to greet a crowd of about 80 supporters, who congregated from all over the state. Though many sought to show their support for the president’s reelection, another group formed in Stanley to protest Trump Jr.’s arrival in town.
• The city of Hailey collected $60,880 in local-option tax revenue in August—a 46 percent decrease compared with last year. City Administrator Heather Dawson said that although LOT tax receipts were significantly less than usual, Hailey’s overall revenue only dropped about 8 percent last month. Hailey’s LOT makes up about 10 percent of the city's total general revenue stream.
• With wildfires consuming much of the west—including one million acres in Oregon—four Bellevue firefighters responded to the call for aid from Idaho’s neighbors. Nick Schell, Scott Beaver, Marco Beyeler and Osvaldo Arenas headed out to Oregon last weekend to help fight the Echo Mountain Complex Fire.
• Tonight’s Carey High School football game against Hagerman has been canceled because of an increased risk of coronavirus transmission in Gooding County, where Hagerman is located. This is the second night in a row a local football game has been called off because of a neighboring county’s COVID-19 situation. Last night’s Wood River game against Minico was also canceled, in that case because of the situation in Minidoka County.
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