Heath Druzin

New federal data show Idaho’s per-capita suicide rate was improving before the pandemic. But early numbers indicate that trend reversed in 2020.


The pandemic's economic toll has left many in the Mountain West struggling to feed their families. In fact, Nevada and New Mexico have some of the highest rates of child food insecurity in the country, according to a report published last fall by the nonprofit Feeding America.

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State health officials report a man in southwest Idaho has tested positive for the South African variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. He is the first in the state to test positive for a concerning mutation. Another concerning variant originating in the UK was also found in Boise-area wastewater.

Brett Sayer / Flickr

A year into the pandemic, many of us have adjusted in little ways. We’ve grown more accustomed to the masks. We have largely mastered Zoom, even if we sometimes forget to hit “unmute.“

But we still miss a lot from our old lives, and after all this time, that’s become more acute.

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Gun sales have spiked during the pandemic, and retailers are running low on ammunition all around the country.

A new report finds that pandemic-related job loss will cause twice as much chronic homelessness than the 2008 Great Recession, with Latinos and African Americans especially vulnerable.

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A love of apocalyptic horror films may have actually helped people mentally prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic. At least, that's according to research published this month in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

In Fast-Moving Pandemic, Health Officials Try To Change Minds At Warp Speed

Dec 29, 2020
St. Luke’s Health System

Nine months into the pandemic that has killed more than 320,000 people in the U.S., Kim Larson is still trying to convince others in her northern Montana county that COVID-19 is dangerous.

Health Officials Fear Pandemic-Related Suicide Spike Among Native Youth

Dec 29, 2020
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Fallen pine cones covered 16-year-old Leslie Keiser’s fresh grave at the edge of Wolf Point, a small community on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation on the eastern Montana plains.

BSPR/Troy Oppie

Virtual Santa visits, masks, reservations and wax-sealed letters: There's plenty of changes at Santa's workshop this holiday and some will outlast the pandemic.

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Sports are a significant part of life for many of us, but the pandemic has significantly altered the sports landscape. Some leagues have been more successful than others, and while there’s a legitimate question of should college football be happening at all during a pandemic, it is.

City of Meridian, Idaho - Government / Facebook

Have you finished your holiday shopping yet? This year, with so many people staying home to avoid exposure to COVID-19, big online retailers have gotten a boost. That’s great news for their shareholders. But it’s been hard on local businesses who can’t compete with their e-commerce infrastructure. It’s already been a difficult year for small Idaho businesses, any many have shuttered in since March or are facing tough decisions this winter. 

But as Maggie Mullen of the Mountain West News Bureau reports, necessity can be the mother of invention. Mullen joins Idaho Matters to talk more about this.

via Facebook / Visual Arts Collective

Music and performing arts venues were some of the first things to shut down last spring during the pandemic and have largely remained closed even as restaurants, bars, malls and other businesses reopened. Even after the COVID-19 vaccine is available in Idaho, indoor concerts and performances are likely not to bounce back immediately.

Marco Ugarte / AP Images

One of the big issues for students when it comes to distance learning is not having adequate WiFi. A Boise-based tech company, MetaGeek, is offering anyone who’s involved with remote learning free home WiFi help. That means if you’re a teacher or a student, you’ll have free help in making sure your WiFi is stable.

Jesse Tree / via Facebook

Even before the pandemic hit, the Treasure Valley was experiencing an intense housing crisis. In fact, since the beginning of this year, the average rent in the valley has increased by 10%. For folks living paycheck to paycheck, all it takes is one unexpected expense to leave them unable to pay rent. Jesse Tree of Idaho is an organization that prevents homelessness by providing rent assistance and other services to keep folks in their homes." class="wysiwyg-break drupal-content" src="/sites/all/modules/contrib/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif" title="<--break-->">

Intermountain Healthcare

Our region is facing a hospitalization crisis. COVID-19 patients are flooding ICUs, adding to an already busy time of year. To tackle it effectively, hospitals and states need to work as a team. But as the Mountain West News Bureau’s Madelyn Beck explains, it’s not that simple. Madelyn joins Idaho Matters to talk more about this.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Arts organizations have taken a hit this year. To stay afloat, they’ve had to embrace virtual means of showcasing their work. At first, this just looked like live-streamed performances or other replications of what you’d see in person. But soon, these organizations innovated ways to use technology and the internet to connect with new artists and audiences.   

One such organization is The Cabin in Boise, whose upcoming evening of performances and readings leans into the virtual platform. Kurt Zwolfer is the executive director of The Cabin and joins Idaho Matters along with Malia Collins, Idaho’s current Writer in Residence.

Riley Haun / University of Idaho

The COVID-19 pandemic isn't the first pandemic in recorded history. In fact, personal stories of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic exist deep in the archives. For college students today struggling through quarantines, strained social dynamics, new academic demands and the politics of visiting home for the holidays, it might be comforting to know that young adults their age went through — and survived — all of this before.

Ballet Idaho

Snow falling today in the Treasure Valley accenutated the holiday mood shared by Idaho Matters guest Anne Mueller, Artistic Associate at Ballet Idaho. She introduced the upcoming dance production, "Spectacular Holiday Spectaular."

The inspiration for its music came from Mueller's time listening to Carl Scheider, the radio host of Private Idaho and Idaho Music on Boise State Public Radio. Every December, our DJ has broadcast Idaho holiday music from the Idaho Ho Ho! series of albums by the Audiolab Recording Studio.

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The holiday season usually brings an uptick in illness — but health officials say this is no normal year. The coronavirus pandemic is in its most dangerous phase yet, and if Thanksgiving gatherings and travel increase cases, hospitals say they could reach maximum capacity by the new year.