Twin Falls County surpassed the 600 case milestone on Wednesday, adding 15 confirmed and 2 probable cases of COVID-19 to its total. That was by far the largest increase in the South Central Public Health District. No new cases were reported for Blaine County, leaving local totals at 523 confirmed and 12 probable.
Reminiscent of months past, most of today’s top news is coronavirus-related. Most notably, one city in Blaine County has declared face masks a requirement in public spaces as other local governments debate the measure. Here's that story and more major headlines from Wednesday, July 1.
• The Hailey City Council passed an emergency health order Tuesday night requiring people to wear face masks in public spaces—with a few allowances made for at-risk people and certain situations. As of Wednesday afternoon, Hailey and Moscow are the only two cities in Idaho requiring masks to be worn. Those caught disobeying the order could be fined $100.
• Hailey’s decision comes as the Blaine County Commissioners passed a resolution encouraging—but not requiring—the use of face coverings countywide. Both Bellevue and Ketchum are expected to discuss similar measures early next week.
• As government officials consider new rules, local ER doctors weighed in as well, discussing how hand-washing and mask-wearing can help slow the spread of coronavirus even as Idaho reaches new peaks of infection. As St. Luke’s Wood River emergency physician Dr. Brock Bemis put it, “Any barrier is better than no barrier.”
• An Idaho prison inmate has tested positive for COVID-19, the first to do so within the state correctional system. Though the Blaine County Jail does house some inmates from the Department of Correction, the news will not have an impact on local procedures, according to Sheriff Steve Harkins.
“As one of the last states to have a confirmed coronavirus case in our inmate population, the Idaho Department of Correction has had several months to prepare for a positive case and take the necessary precautions to reduce the likelihood of spread,” said Governor Brad Little. “The health and safety of the inmates in the state’s custody, as well as the state employees who work with them, is paramount.”
• Community spread is contributing to a steady rise in cases across the South Central Public Health District, which covers eight counties, including Blaine County. Though numbers here are not rising so dramatically as elsewhere in the state, area health officials have noted that totals may not tell the whole story, as anyone who doesn’t maintain permanent residence in the county does not contribute to the local tally.
Idaho more than doubled its total number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases between June 1 and July 1. At the beginning of last month, the state Department of Health and Welfare counted 2,906 cases as the state advanced into the third stage of the governor’s reopening plan.
Today’s increase of 253 brought the statewide total to 6,370.
For more top news, pick up a copy of today’s Idaho Mountain Express or visit mtexpress.com at any time.