Mount Heyburn

Mount Heyburn loomed over Redfish Lake, its peaks a little hazy last weekend as smoke from wildfires drifted in and out of the area. The local air quality was most recently rated "moderate" by the Department of Environmental Quality.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported another 671 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 statewide today, raising the total to 45,753. Another eight coronavirus-related deaths left the state's death toll at 500 today.

Based on the state's numbers, Blaine County gained eight confirmed and one probable case of coronavirus overnight, raising those totals to 680 and 35, respectively. Every other county in the South Central Public Health District except Camas County also recorded new cases today. As of last night, the district was monitoring 1,195 active cases. About 21,778 cases statewide are considered active.

Keep reading for more on local COVID-19 restrictions, the nearby Meridian Fire, flu vaccine availability and more top stories from Wednesday, Oct. 7.

• As coronavirus cases begin to mount heading into flu season, the Blaine County commissioners indicated they may consider restricting group gatherings, though no firm decisions have yet been made. The city of Hailey will meet tonight to discuss possibly enacting similar restrictions and intensifying mask requirements.

Gretel Kauffman reports.

• The Meridian Fire 22 miles south of Clayton grew from 30 acres yesterday to 337 acres this afternoon. The fire is burning in a northwesterly direction towards Hunter Creek Summit. Smoke may still be visible north of Ketchum. As of this afternoon’s update, firefighters had achieved 7 percent containment. The cause of the fire is still unknown. The wildfire has just recently been added to federal incident management system InciWeb.

Click here for updates on this developing story.

• With concerns rising as Blaine County’s COVID-19 tally increases, people are rushing to get their flu vaccines, leading to long lines at pharmacies, long waits at clinics and some shortages. A line at Albertsons began to form at 9:30 a.m. last Thursday, even though flu shots were not available until 10 a.m. When the line was cut off at about 12:30 p.m. there were still a few people waiting who would have to come back another day.

Though many have reported similar experiences at other locations, no officials have yet confirmed a shortage of vaccines.

Tony Evans has the full story here.

• A total of 11 Idaho counties and 31 cities—including Lincoln County, Bellevue and Sun Valley—will participate in Gov. Brad Little’s plan to use federal coronavirus relief funds to cover local public safety salaries, according to the latest count from the Governor’s Office. Doing so requires participating governments to forgo the usual allowable 3 percent increase in the property tax portion of their fiscal 2021 budgets.

Kauffman has more here.

• The Mountain Express’ virtual 2020 Candidates’ Forum kicks off at 6:30 p.m. tonight via Zoom. The nonpartisan event gives voters the chance to hear from local candidates ahead of the November elections. We’ll also be streaming the program on our YouTube page.

Click here to watch live.

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

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