Friday, October 23, 2020
Coronavirus Claims First Sun Valley Events
St. Luke’s Wood River has been preparing for the coronavirus.
Thursday, March 12, 2020


Ketchum’s Community Library’s popular lecture series took its first hit due to the coronavirus on Tuesday. The City of Ketchum cancelled its Rail Jam scheduled for Saturday. The Vamps and Dons cancelled their end-of-the-season margarita party at Galena Lodge. And the Sun Valley Film Festival postponed its Main Street Salutes a Legend party on Friday night to 2021 to avoid drawing a large crowd.

Festival film screenings and programs will continue to be held in small private venues, as scheduled.

One of the presenters who had planned to speak at a March 25 presentation titled “Skis in the Art of War” decided he didn't want to risk traveling from Washington State to Sun Valley at this time. And as the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on Wednesday, officials for Treefort Music Festival tweeted that they were postponing their festival, which was scheduled to start March 25, to late September.

With three cases of coronavirus reported near Vail ski resort, one Sun Valley ski instructor says that Sun Valley should close and everyone in the valley should self-isolate to protect themselves and the community from the spread of the disease.

Grand America released a statement to employees, noting that the symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. It told employees to stay home if sick, cover their mouth with tissue or elbow and wash hands frequently, while disinfecting surfaces they touch.

Visit Sun Valley, which noted that Sun Valley is finishing one of the strongest ski seasons in recent years, issued a statement on its website that there were no reported cases and no travel restrictions in place as of March 9 (now as of March 11). The statement noted that international visitation is low, in case anyone is worried about that.Film festival officials confirmed there are no special guests coming from outside the United States, as well.

The majority of film festival-goers are from Blaine County and southern Idaho.

“If you’re sick, we recommend coming another time. It’s no fun to vacation when you’re sick, anyway," Visit Sun Valley wrote on its website. " We hope to see you soon in Sun Valley unless, of course, you’re sick with the coronavirus,” it concluded.

With Spring Break coming up this week and next a few people but not all have said they will stay home, rather than risk going to Seattle and other places where the risk is greater.

Sun Valley Museum of Art officials stated that they are deep cleaning The Liberty Theatre and asking partner venues like The Argyros and Church of the Big Wood to do the same. Frequent hand washing is required and monitored for staff and volunteers and ushers are not handing out programs and taking tickets for the time being.

The Sun Valley Community School’s Ryan Waterfield spent Wednesday preparing a statement to send to school families Wednesday. The Blaine County school District is monitoring for the virus. The Limelight Hotel is offering a flexible cancellation policy for guests concerned about the virus.

St. Luke’s has received training for a scenario and has been putting preparedness efforts in place since January, said Joy Prudek. The hospital has isolation rooms and procedures to transfer patients, if necessary.

If it’s necessary to treat someone with the coronavirus, it’s unlikely to affect scheduled surgeries, such as knee replacements.

“If we did have a patient in isolation, it is unlikely to impact normal operations of the hospital,” Prudek said. We may institute additional screenings upon entry and exit into the hospital, and we may restrict visitors if the situation warrants. We also have a tent that could be set up in the parking lot, if necessary.”

Some countries have seemed to have gotten ahead of the virus better than others. In Taiwan, for instance, temperature guns are being used to check people’s temperatures as they enter schools and businesses.

And a man who broke quarantine by going to a dance club after experiencing symptoms was fined $10,000.

Janet Ross-Heiner suggested that local venues would be proactive in asking people not to enter if they have a cough or fever.


Many people have questioned why the general public is told to refrain from wearing masks when doctors and the infected are advised to wear them.

Dr. David Pate, who just stepped down as St. Luke’s CEO only to step on a COVID-19 task force assembled by the governor, wrote in The Idaho Statesman that there are a couple reasons for that:

  • First, the coronavirus strain is incredibly small and can penetrate porous material used in masks that can be purchased over the counter at drug stores or off the Internet.
  • It helps, on the other hand, to have infected people wear them. As they sneeze, the sneeze picks up secretions from lungs, throat and mouth. These bigger secretions can be trapped by a mask. If, however, the infected person is not wearing a mask, the projectile streams through the air, losing mass as it goes. And, by the time it reaches a non-infected person, that tiny drop of coronavirus is again small enough to penetrate an ordinary mask.
  • Hospital workers wear masks that are different from the ones you can purchase over the counter in a drug store. They protect from 95 percent of the particles the size of coronavirus drop. And their masks are fitted to the wearer.


Right now, it appears deadlier than the strains of flu we deal with year in and year out. The normal flu kills 0.1 percent of people infected. Early reports are that the coronavirus killed 2 percent—which would put it up there with the 1918 Spanish influenza.

But new reports indicate the mortality rate is more like 1.4 percent and it may be even less as more testing determines that many have just mild or undetectable symptoms. It’s also thought that the Spanish flu might not have been as deadly today, given respirators and antibiotics.

Right now, coronavirus seems more contagious than the regular flu—it appears that one person can infect 2.3 person—about what the Spanish influenza did. Someone with the more common flu, by contrast, infects 1.2 people.  But, again, no one really knows given the sporadic testing so far.


The coronavirus has it in for those 65 and older, those with chronic illness and compromised immune systems.

The death rate among those 80 and older in Wuhan, the epicenter, was 14.8 percent. It killed 8 percent of those ages 70 to 79, 3.6 percent of those ages 60 to 69, 1.3 percent of those between 50 and 59 years of age and 0.4 percent of those ages 40 to 49. The death rate was just 0.2 percent for those ages 10 through 39.

It also seems to target more men—some say because men smoke more. Children and young people are virtually unscathed.


There is no antiviral drug that’s been approved, but oxygen can be helpful if pneumonia is present.  Those who have a mild case may not even realize they have it.


Clean the surfaces you touch frequently.

Clean your hands frequently by wetting your hands first, then scrubbing them and your fingernails with soap for 30 seconds. Rinse and dry thoroughly with a paper towel.

If you can’t wash your hands, use alcohol-based hand-sanitizers containing at least 60 percent alcohol.

If you incur a cough or fever, call your doctor.


Official sources for coronavirus information are

The South Central Public Health website is Hotline - 208-737-1138; 8 am -5 pm; Monday - Friday



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