Misty Baldy

Bald Mountain was looking misty and atmospheric on the first day of spring this past Saturday. Next weekend should be a little more spring-like, with early forecasts indicating temperatures in the 50s.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 575 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, raising the total to 177,760. Of those, an estimated 99,193 have recovered.

The state’s coronavirus-related death toll rose by five since Friday, leaving the total at 1,946.

Blaine County gained nine cases over the weekend, raising local totals to 2,014 confirmed and 209 probable. The South Central Public Health District is monitoring 45 cases in Blaine County.

Statewide, 239,560 people are considered fully inoculated against COVID-19. A further 142,670 Idahoans have received the first dose of a two-dose vaccine and await their second.

Keep reading for news of COVID-19 forcing a legislative recess, an expansion to the hunting of mountain lions, state unemployment rates, and more news from Monday, March 22.

• The Idaho Legislature has temporarily shut down following nine new confirmed cases of COVID-19 among members of the state House of Representatives and staffers in the House and Senate. The recess will remain in place until April 6.

Gretel Kauffman reports.

• The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has removed statewide mountain lion harvest quotas for the 2021-22 big game season. The new policy lifts all quotas in state game units that previously imposed such restrictions, including in Blaine County. The season begins in August.

Emily Jones has the story.

• Idaho’s economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. The state Department of Labor reported yet another slight decline to unemployment rates to kick off 2021. In January, unemployment was at 3.4%, down from last April’s historic high of 11.6 %.

Greg Foley has the details.

• Croy Canyon-based nonprofit animal shelter Mountain Humane has released its year-end report, indicating a solvent 2020 after running on a tighter budget since cutting seven staff positions and nearly $1 million from its expenses in 2019.

Tony Evans has more on that here.

For more local and regional news, visit mtexpress.com at any time, and look for a free copy of Wednesday’s Idaho Mountain Express.

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