Smoke on Dollar

Smoke clouded the views from Dollar Mountain Saturday. The Department of Environmental Quality classified Ketchum's air as "unhealthy" this weekend.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare counted another 582 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 statewide over the weekend, including 253 today. That raises Idaho’s total to 35,532 since March, of which an estimated 18,826 have recovered. Factoring in the state’s COVID-19 death toll of 419, that means health officials are monitoring 16,287 active cases—roughly 46 percent of the total.

Seven more people died since Friday with coronavirus as a contributing factor.

Blaine County residents accounted for five of the state's new cases since Friday, raising local totals to 595 confirmed and 19 probable.

The South Central Public Health District once again updated its Regional Risk Summary to reflect that Lincoln County residents are at moderate risk of spreading the virus. That leaves only Blaine and Cassia Counties at minimal risk. All others in the district are moderate.

Keep reading for news of community spread in Camas, wildfires in the Sawtooth National Forest, and air quality throughout Idaho. Here are the top stories from Monday, Sept. 14.

• The South Central Public Health District confirmed community spread of COVID-19 in Camas County this afternoon. With that, Camas became the last of the health district’s eight counties to exhibit community spread, meaning that at least one person tested positive for the virus without it being clear where or how infection occurred. Camas County currently has four confirmed cases.

• Multiple wildfires are burning more than 9,000 acres in the Sawtooth National Forest at the moment. The Badger Fire, reported on Saturday, was estimated at 5,000 acres Monday afternoon. The blaze is consuming brush and lodgepole pine forest near Oakley.

The Grouse Fire, which ignited about 24 miles northwest of Fairfield on Sept. 6, was about 5 percent contained as of 12:30 p.m. today. It is currently estimated at 3,686 acres.

A new 50-acre wildfire ignited at 12:45 p.m. this afternoon near Trap Creek Campground, west of Cape Horn Road. The fire spread across state Highway 21, prompting a road closure west of Stanley.

• The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality extended an Air Pollution Forecast Caution for the entire South Central Public Health District today. As smoke continues to blanket Idaho from wildfires here and throughout the coastal states, air quality continues to degrade. As of this afternoon, the air in the Wood River Valley was rated moderate on the DEQ’s Air Quality Index, although it spent much of the day as “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” following “unhealthy” readings Sunday.

• Donald Trump Jr. is going to speak at a fundraiser in Stanley tomorrow night. Tickets to dinner with the president’s eldest son are currently priced at $2,800 apiece, the maximum amount an individual can donate to a candidate committee per election, according to an invitation shared with the Idaho Mountain Express.

Tuesday’s dinner marks the second high-priced fundraiser for the 2020 presidential nominees to take place in or near Blaine County. In August of 2019, Joe Biden spoke at a private event north of Ketchum. Tickets for Biden’s event were also $2,800 per person.

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

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