Magic Reservoir Drought

Magic Reservoir stood at just 5 percent capacity Saturday amid continuing drought conditions.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare counted 296 more confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the state total to 32,664. The state's death toll rose by four since yesterday to 372.

According to the state, Blaine County's total confirmed coronavirus case count somehow decreased overnight from 588 to 586. Probable cases hold steady at 18. Whether this is simply an error in data entry or an error in testing is unknown at this time. This is not the first time local numbers have appeared to decrease.

Coronavirus takes a toll on school enrollment numbers, poverty levels are extremely high throughout the county and water levels extremely low in Magic Reservoir. Here are some of the top stories from Wednesday, Sept. 2.

• Preliminary enrollment numbers suggest the Blaine County School District will likely welcome fewer students than normal this year. With the start of the school year delayed to Sept. 8 and the district’s new in-person learning model limiting time spent out of the home, it seems some parents have favored other options.

In Bellevue, for instance, the elementary school attendance is significantly lower, but the Syringa Mountain School—a local charter school—has seen enrollment rise. Syringa students will attend classes in-person five days a week instead of the two days BCSD facilities are planning on. That makes a huge difference to working parents, Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes said.

• Even as the high-end real estate market in Ketchum and Sun Valley booms, a recent study has shown that more than half of all Blaine County households are either below the federal poverty level or “working but unable to afford basic household necessities.” With fewer and fewer affordable housing options in an area with a high cost of living, many are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and homelessness.

• Recent wildfires had a greater local impact than just a week of smoke hovering over the valley. Several local firefighters deployed to California, Utah and Colorado to help battle the blazes that consumed the west. Emily Jones spoke to some of them about the “apocalyptic” conditions on the front lines.

• The summer’s continued severe drought conditions have wreaked havoc on water levels throughout Blaine County. This past weekend, Magic Reservoir stood at just 5 percent capacity—around 9,950 acre-feet out of 191,500. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has declared a public fish salvage as a result.

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

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