Twin Falls Bridge

COVID-19 caseloads, hospitalizations and deaths continue to climb in Twin Falls, according the the state Department of Health and Welfare, as city councilmembers table discussions of a proposed mask ordinance.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 1,201 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 statewide today. That raises the total since March to 75,428, of which officials are still monitoring an estimated 41,384 cases. The state has reported a total of 714 coronavirus-related deaths, 16 more than yesterday.

The health department confirmed five new COVID-19 cases among Blaine County residents today, leaving local totals at 947 confirmed and 60 probable. As of last night, the South Central Public Health District was monitoring 164 cases in Blaine County. The Health District has not yet updated its data today.

Read on for details of St. Luke's Health System's temporarily out-of-service phone system, Twin Falls’ proposed mask mandate, rapid-result COVID-19 testing in Hailey and more local news stories from Tuesday, Nov. 10.

• The telephone system for all St. Luke's Health System sites is temporarily down for both inbound and outbound calls, St. Luke's Public Relations Manager Joy Prudek told the Express at 5:09 p.m. this evening. She said St. Luke's staff members are working to resolve the issue.

Anyone experiencing a medical emergency should head to their nearest Emergency Department.

• The Twin Falls City Council met Monday night to consider a health order requiring the use of face coverings in public. After more than four hours of public comment, however, the council voted 6-1 in favor of tabling the proposed ordinance indefinitely. According to the South Central Public Health District, Twin Falls County is at a “critical” risk level of COVID-19 transmission, hospital capacity is strained and health officials are monitoring outbreaks in 17 local long-term care facilities. Blaine County and four of its cities have mask mandates, and the city of Fairfield in Camas County is recommending masks.

Gretel Kauffman has more on that here, and will have a full-length story in tomorrow’s paper.

• Luke’s Family Pharmacy in Hailey is now offering free rapid-result testing for COVID-19. Residents who have coronavirus symptoms for five days or fewer and have not been tested within the preceding week can receive the rapid antigen test, which provides results in 15 minutes. For asymptomatic people, the pharmacy is also offering a nasal swab test, which will be analyzed at an off-site lab and yield results in two to three days. The off-site test will be billed to the patient’s insurance, or offered free to uninsured patients.

• The annual Turkey Trot 5K fun run got the green light from the Hailey City Council last night. The run, organized by the Chamber of Hailey and the Wood River Valley, will follow the same route as usual, but will stagger participants in waves of 50 or fewer every 15 minutes.

The city council was expected to weigh in on the annual Holiday Bazaar as well last night, but the event organizers pulled their application beforehand, citing social distancing concerns.

• Also during last night’s meeting, the Hailey City Council appointed Mayor Martha Burke and Councilman Sam Linnet to the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority board. They will replace two outgoing board members, former Mayor Fritz Haemmerle and former Councilman Pat Cooley, respectively. Burke and Linnet will join Jacob Greenberg, Don Keirn, Dick Fosbury, Ron Fairfax and Angenie McCleary in overseeing the airport.

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

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