St. Thomas Outdoor Church

Ketchum's St. Thomas Episcopal Church held its service outside in Festival Field this past Sunday, with parishioners bringing their own chairs and maintaining social distance.

Today, Idaho saw its record-high single-day increase in confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases. Statewide, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare counted another 243 cases of the virus. The previous record was 222.

Blaine County held steady at 513 confirmed and 11 probable cases of COVID-19 overnight Tuesday, according to the South Central Public Health District. Of those, only eight are still being monitored by health officials. Meanwhile, Twin Falls saw an uptick in infection overnight surpassing Blaine's totals for the first time. Twin Falls has 442 confirmed and 89 probable cases. 

Locally, Blaine County leaders try to adjust to the new normal, prepping sobering budgets, making changes to law enforcement, and setting aside some time for a very small fish. Here are the top headlines from Wednesday, June 24.

• The Blaine County School District Board of Trustees voted to pass the proposed 2020-21 school year budget, and to eliminate the $250,000 in-house communications department. The economic downturn wrought by COVID-19 is projected to hit the BCSD hard. District Finance Manager Bryan Fletcher had previously projected about a $4.8 million drop in revenue from 2019-20 to 2020-21.

The final budget approved by the trustees included $56,899,232 in expenses, amounting to roughly 1.4 percent less than the current year's spend. The district expects to allocate about $3.7 million from a reserve fund to cover the costs.

• Hailey City Council passed a resolution on Monday banning local police officers from using tear gas and requiring officers to issue verbal warnings before using deadly force in whenever possible.

“In my 22 years of service, we’ve never had a reason to use tear gas or even think about using it, so I am more than comfortable taking that out of our policy altogether,” Police Chief Steve England said.

• Researchers have been exploring the world of the illusive, prehistoric, endemic Wood River sculpin, a tiny brown fish with froglike eyes. Many sculpins are facing new threats and even drifting towards endangerment. How exactly they fit into the ecosystem and how to save them is the subject of work by numerous biologists.

• The city of Sun Valley has begun its annual budget workshops, delving into each of the city’s departments and assessing what the coming year may look like with revenue streams uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide recession.

• The Bellevue City Council on Monday reviewed and discussed a proposal to receive federal COVID-19 relief funding that would also reduce property taxes in the city.

The statewide total of COVID-19 cases is now 4,645 after a record high increase of 243 new cases joined the tally overnight. Since yesterday, one more person has died with the virus, raising the death toll to 90.

For more top news stories, pick up a copy of today's Idaho Mountain Express, or visit at any time.

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