Busy Ketchum Main Street

Ketchum was busy with local recreationists and tourists for the long Presidents' Day weekend. Blaine County's COVID-19 case rate, while in decline, is still considerably higher than the state average, with some health officials pointing to tourism as a likely factor.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 408 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 today, raising the total to 168,353. Of those, an estimated 90,706 have recovered.

The state coronavirus-related death toll rose by 11 today to 1,817.

Blaine County gained five confirmed and one probable case today, raising those totals to 1,927 and 203, respectively. The South Central Public Health District is monitoring 398 cases in Blaine County.

As of today, 71,679 Idahoans have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine. A further 124,653 have received one dose and are awaiting their second. In Blaine County, those numbers are 1,014 and 3,405, respectively.

Keep reading for updates on in-person learning in the BCSD, Blaine’s COVID case and vaccination rates, the future of Warm Springs Ranch, and more top news from Wednesday, Feb. 17.

• Citing success from the first week of increased in-person learning for elementary students, the Blaine County School District Board of Trustees voted last night to send middle and high school students back to school Monday-Thursday beginning March 8.

Gretel Kauffman reports.

• Blaine County’s COVID-19 case rate has been decreasing steadily, but is still more than twice the statewide average. Coronavirus hospitalizations have also decreased in Blaine and across the state as vaccination efforts ramp up.

Greg Foley has more here.

• Blaine County is leading the South Central Public Health District in vaccine administration. The Health District covers eight counties: Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls. Though Blaine County is home to only 11% of the district’s population, some 22% of all vaccines administered districtwide have been given to Blaine County residents.

Learn more here.

• Sun Valley developer Bob Brennan, owner of the high-profile Warm Springs Ranch property at the base of Bald Mountain, has forged an agreement with Ketchum, providing the city with the option to buy roughly 82% of the property for $9 million. The 64-acre space would be maintained as a “passive park” and natural area.

Read more here.

• The Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill this week that would eliminate August elections in Idaho. School officials across the state have opposed the bill, which, if passed into law, would deprive districts of an important opportunity to hold bond and levy elections after the summer budget-setting process.

Click here for details.

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

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