Autumn Campers

Many are out enjoying early autumn camping as the foliage changes color and temperatures cool. Though fire restrictions are lifted in the Sawtooth and Salmon-Challis National Forests, campers are reminded to take extra care in extinguishing their campfires, as wildfire risk remains high in the Central Idaho Dispatch Zone.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 660 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 today, pushing the total to 45,082. Officials counted another five coronavirus-related deaths overnight, raising the state death toll to 492.

Based on the state numbers, which do disagree slightly with those provided by the South Central Public Health District, Blaine County gained six more confirmed cases today for a total of 672. The state also lists 34 probable cases.

As of last night, district officials were monitoring 59 active cases in Blaine County.

Keep reading for updates on a nearby wildfire, Ketchum’s COVID-19 response, the airport’s plans for the ski season and ongoing drought conditions. Here are the top stories from Tuesday, Oct. 6.

• Some in Ketchum today may have noticed smoke to the north. That seems to be coming from the 30-acre Meridian Fire on the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The fire was reported yesterday, less than two weeks after fire restrictions on the forest were lifted. As the fire is still fairly new, details are limited.

Here's what we know.

• Ketchum city officials met yesterday to discuss a recent uptick in coronavirus cases and consider what level of response the increase warranted. No one seemed in favor of another lockdown, and Ketchum Fire Chief Bill McLaughlin reported no “evidence of community spread linked to the business community”; rather, officials are noticing so-called “COVID fatigue,” in which people simply get tired of following health guidelines and safety orders. Without continued vigilance, city officials warned, the situation could worsen.

Greg Foley reports.

• Friedman Memorial Airport will maintain nonstop flights with Alaska, Delta and United to six major U.S. destinations throughout the ski season. The Fly Sun Valley Alliance believes Sun Valley is poised to welcome high levels of tourists this year, since the resort is not planning to use a reservation system or place other limitations on visits the way some of its competitors are planning to. Travelers can expect nonstop service to and from Salt Lake City, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago all winter long.

Emily Jones has the full story here.

• Bellevue, Hailey and Ketchum are currently displaying extreme drought conditions, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System. The conditions indicate “major crop and pasture losses” as well as “widespread water shortages or restrictions.”

Learn more here.

• On Wednesday, Express staff will moderate discussions with District 26 House Seat B candidates Sally Toone and William Thorpe, Idaho State Senate candidates Michelle Stennett and Eric Parker, and Blaine County Commissioner candidates Jacob Greenberg and Kiki Tidwell.

The nonpartisan event will take place tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom, and will be broadcast on the Express' YouTube channel. To register or offer questions for candidates, email akindred@mtexpress.com.

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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