The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 341 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 statewide today, raising the total to 176,802. Of those, an estimated 98,510 have recovered.
The state's coronavirus-related death toll rose by three to 1,938.
Meanwhile, Blaine County gained two cases on Thursday, raising local totals to 2,000 confirmed and 210 probable. The South Central Public Health District continues to monitor 46 cases in Blaine County.
A total of 217,497 Idahoans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. A further 131,220 have received one dose of a two-dose vaccine and await their second.
Read on for the BCSD’s stance on five-day school weeks, Blaine County’s COVID-19 risk, a major Big Wood River restoration project, and more news from Thursday, March 18.
• The Blaine County School District board of trustees voted unanimously this week to return all elementary students to the classroom five days a week, starting April 12. Students have not attended a five-day school week since before the initial lockdown over a year ago. No determination was made regarding middle and high school students, who currently attend in-person four days a week.
• Blaine County updated its COVID-19 transmission risk assessment today, reflecting a “moderate” risk in the county for the first time in 2021. “Moderate” is the second-lowest designation on the four-tiered scale, based on average new cases and positive test rates.
• The second phase of a years-long restoration project in the Big Wood River where it flows through Bellevue is now underway. The $760,000 project, initiated by the Wood River Land Trust, seeks to increase biodiversity and reduce damage to property during spring floods by restoring natural river function.
• Idaho’s 2020 elk harvest was the second highest in the past decade and sixth highest ever, according to the Department of Fish and Game. A total of 22,776 elk were harvested last year, up about 11% from 2019.
• Hailey-based global consulting and engineering firm Power Engineers took steps to ensure the use of 100% renewable energy in all its Idaho facilities. The company plans to purchase enough renewable energy certificates to cover about 3,000 megawatt-hours per year.
For more local and regional news, pick up a free copy of tomorrow’s Idaho Mountain Express newspaper, or visit mtexpress.com at any time.