Wood River High School Graduation Coronavirus Distancing

Wood River High School graduates got to walk across the stage and collect their diplomas this past Saturday, but the ceremony looked very different from normal. Families came to cheer on their graduates, keeping to specially designated, social distancing-friendly allotments on Homer Field.

The South Central Public Health District reported two new cases of coronavirus in Blaine County over the weekend, raising the total to 509 confirmed and 11 probable. Twin Falls, Jerome, Cassia, Minidoka and Gooding counties also all saw their numbers increase this weekend. Only Lincoln and Camas held steady in the Health District.

Today, our reporters take a look at city construction projects, environmental concerns, and charitable efforts. Here are the top stories from Monday, June 22.

• Since last week, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has been registering steady rises in statewide cases of COVID-19, with each successive day seeing a larger increase in cases than its predecessors. On Saturday, the department counted 135 new confirmed and probable cases of the disease, Idaho’s third-highest jump ever. The state’s total case count broke past 4,000 this weekend.

Today’s statewide increase of 164 is the second-largest increase since the pandemic began.

In response to these rises, Boise and Ada County—which has become a hotspot again—regressed back into Stage 3 of the state's reopening scheme, the Central Public Health District announced on Monday. That means bars and large venues will once again close, and gatherings of more than 50 people will be prohibited. 

• The Ketchum City Council has cancelled a special meeting initially scheduled for Tuesday, June 23. In it, councilmembers were to make the final call on the proposed new fire station. Mayor Neil Bradshaw had hoped to break ground on the Saddle Road site on Wednesday, pending approval from the council. With the meeting cancelled, though, that means construction will be postponed, too.

The new fire station is supposed to be finished by the end of September, 2021, and stand next to the Wood River Community YMCA and across the street from the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood. Assessments of potential traffic concerns and pedestrian hazards will be reviewed by the city council at a future date, yet to be determined.

• The Idaho Council of Trout Unlimited relocated 1,055 trout upstream into the Big Wood River on last week discovering a nearly dried-up stretch of the river south of Bellevue. The rescue operation—led by council President and Hailey resident Ed Northen—used a trailer with a water tank to transport a mix of rainbow and brown trout to a section of the Big Wood River along Broadford Road, according to Fish and Game spokesman Terry Thompson.

• The Wood River Women’s Foundation has distributed $300,000 of grant money to 17 area nonprofits. The Ketchum Community Development Corporation’s Sustainability Advisory Committee received the largest portion: $75,000. Other top recipients include NAMI-WRV, St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center’s Trauma Prevention Program, and the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation’s Compassionate Care Program.

Today’s rise in COVID-19 cases leaves Idaho’s statewide count at 4,254. So far, 3,045 people have recovered and 89 have died, according to the Department of Health and Welfare. As evidenced by the actions taken in Ada County, any future lockdown or reopening rollback will likely be on a county-by-county basis, reminiscent of how Blaine County was shut down before the rest of the state back in March.

For more top news, visit mtexpress.com at any time or grab a copy of this Wednesday’s Idaho Mountain Express.

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