Idaho has once again broken its record for highest ever single-day increase in COVID-19 cases. Yesterday, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 1,179 new confirmed and probable—the most in a single day at the time. That record has since been broken. Today, the department added 1,290 to the tally, raising the total to 68,314. Of those, an estimated 36,440 are still being monitored by health officials.
According to state health officials, coronavirus has contributed to the deaths of 664 Idahoans, 17 more than yesterday. The most coronavirus-related deaths the state has reported in a single day is 18.
The state reported eight new cases among Blaine County residents today, leaving local totals at 887 confirmed and 51 probable. As of last night, the South Central Public Health District was monitoring 139 active cases in Blaine County.
Meanwhile, a Blaine County man in his 60s and a Twin Falls County woman in her 80s marked the first flu-related deaths in Idaho this flu season, the Department of Health and Welfare announced Wednesday. Both also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. We'll have more on that tomorrow.
For now, keep reading for election results, a memorial held in Ashley Midby’s honor, new COVID-19 testing initiatives and more top news from Wednesday, Nov. 4.
• Express staff covered local and state elections as results came in last night. With all precincts reporting in Blaine County by about 12:30 a.m., unofficial counts by the Elections Office signaled that County Commissioner Jacob Greenberg would retain his seat, having beaten challenger Kiki Tidwell with roughly 72 percent of the vote. In Bellevue, Mayor Ned Burns and Aldermen Tammy Davis, Doug Brown and Greg Cappel were all reelected.
All counties in District 26 reported by this morning. Incumbents Sally Toone and Michelle Stennett defeated their challengers, Bill Thorpe and Eric Parker, respectively, for House Seat B and State Senate.
Incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Risch defeated Democrat challenger Paulette Jordan to retain his seat. Incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Simpson likewise prevailed over his Democrat opponent Aaron Swisher. Voters in Blaine County heavily favored the Democrat challengers.
Voters in both Blaine County and the rest of the state voted in favor of passing HJR-4, an amendment to the state constitution that will fix the number of legislative districts at 35.
• Local doctor Tom Archie has partnered with the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation to provide COVID-19 tests to Wood River Valley residents who have been exposed to the virus but remained asymptomatic. The rapid-result tests should yield verdicts within 24-36 hours, and drive-up testing will be available six days a week, alternating between various locations in Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue. Luke’s Family Pharmacy in Hailey also plans to begin a new COVID-19 testing program this week.
• The Bellevue community joined together Friday for a vigil in memory of Ashley Midby, who died alongside Jared Murphy in an apparent murder-suicide on Oct. 22. Friends, family and community members joined together to honor Midby, celebrating her life with music, speeches, food, bonfires and fond recollections.
Our reporter Tony Evans attended and has more on that occasion here.
• Bellevue Marshal William Ross Scaggs could face up to five years in prison following his arrest last month for allegedly delivering marijuana while on duty. According to an Idaho State Police affidavit, Scaggs allegedly gave marijuana edibles to someone at the Marshal's Office and an undercover officer reported him consuming edibles during a training in Pocatello. According to the undercover officer, Scaggs claimed to be "high as f---" during the Pocatello incident.
• Ketchum city leaders sent a formal message to developer Jack Bariteau demanding he provide proof of financing to complete a continually stalled luxury hotel project at the south entrance of the city. With the City Council declaring Harriman Hotel LLC in breach of its development agreement, Bariteau and the Harriman team will have 60 days to resolve the breach or the city can tap into a $453,000 bond to begin restoration of the excavated construction site.
For more local and regional news, pick up a copy of today’s Idaho Mountain Express, or visit mtexpress.com at any time.