Redfish Lake Coronavirus Reopening

Redfish Lake was bustling on Saturday as tourists from Idaho and elsewhere flocked to the Sawtooth Valley to enjoy the warm weather, taking advantage of relaxed lockdown measures.

The South Central Public Health District reported four more cases of COVID-19 in Blaine County over the weekend, bringing the local total to 521 confirmed and 11 probable cases, of which seven are currently being monitored by health officials.

Twin Falls, Cassia and Minidoka counties all saw major spikes over the weekend, though. Between the three of them, the health district is monitoring 155 confirmed and probable cases.

With cases surging, SCPHD weighed in on the accuracy of the reported infection rates today, plus the city of Hailey is mulling over a possible mask-wearing resolution. Here are those stories, alongside more top headlines from Monday, June 29.

• The Hailey City Council will hold a special meeting tomorrow afternoon to discuss a joint mask-wearing resolution. The proposed resolution—also being discussed this week by the Blaine County commissioners and other valley cities—requests the use of “face coverings in public spaces, except outdoors when six-foot physical distances can be maintained, or in situations where masks are not possible."

The city will also discuss a budget proposal, including a 3 percent increase on property tax. The public may provide comment on both the budget and the mask debate.

• The South Central Public Health District suspects that Blaine County’s infection rate—currently the highest in the state by a wide margin—may be higher than the reported numbers reflect. When a tourist or visitor—anyone who doesn’t maintain permanent residence in the county—tests positive for the coronavirus in Blaine County, their case is tallied by their county or state of residence, not here. Those numbers are not reported to the Health District, according to South Central spokeswoman Brianna Bodily.

• In more positive news, the Wood River Land Trust is creating a new “pollinator meadow” in Colorado Gulch. Originally an old cow pasture, the new meadow is specially designed to attract various pollinating insects, including monarch butterflies, which will in turn help more plants grow and support an all-around healthier ecosystem.

• Mountain Rides is working to expand its Bellevue facility. The transit authority plans to use the new space to help house a future fleet of electric buses. Four battery-electric buses are due to arrive next spring.

Priced around $760,000 each, the incoming battery-electric buses are about 35 feet long with a seating capacity of 35 passenger. Eventually, Mountain Rides hopes to convert its entire fleet of 20 diesel buses to electric.

• Those who’ve been driving state Highway 75 lately have likely noticed a vast quantity of sheep passing northward through the valley. The Blaine County Recreation District is keeping tabs on them as they flock in and out of popular hiking and mountain biking spots, and trail users can find the bands online through the BCRD's website. The sheep themselves pose no threat, but dedicated guard dogs may occasionally attack humans who get too close. 

Statewide, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare counted another 583 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, raising the total to 5,752. Ada and Canyon counties continue to be major hotspots. Another person died with the virus, bringing that total to 91.

Keep an eye on for more top news and look for the next issue of the Idaho Mountain Express on Wednesday.

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