- Sun Valley, Idaho is a popular jet-set ski destination and home to the exclusive Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference.
- Notable figures including Mark Zuckerberg, Bob Iger, and Tim Cook have attended the conference, while celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Clint Eastwood have been known to hit the ski slopes.
- Located in a county with just 22,000 full-time residents, Sun Valley joins other small-town areas like the Hamptons and Cape Cod that are being severely disrupted by city dwellers fleeing the virus.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Wealthy people aren’t just flocking to the Hamptons, Cape Cod, and Berkshire County to escape the coronavirus pandemic. They’re also heading to Sun Valley, Idaho — a popular jet-set ski destination and home to the exclusive Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference.
But even as they head west, their presence is still causing the same problems that impact the small-town cities of the northeast: food shortages, medical supply shortages, and a rising fear that these part-time residents and visitors could be bringing in the coronavirus from the cities they’re leaving behind.
Blaine County, where Sun Valley is located, is dealing with over 450 reported cases of the coronavirus among its 22,000 residents. The outbreak in the county, as noted by Amanda Holpuch of The Guardian, has overwhelmed the local medical system, with one local hospital partially shutting down earlier in the month as healthcare workers became infected with the virus themselves.
Keep reading for a closer look at Sun Valley and the larger Blaine County area.
Sun Valley is known as a jet-set ski destination and for being the site of the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, which Business Insider once called “summer camp for billionaires.”
Each summer, billionaires and media moguls meet in Sun Valley for a week-long conference, which has spawned business deals such as Comcast’s acquisition of a majority stake in NBCUniversal in 2011 and Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post in 2013.
Sun Valley has been the site of the conference since 1983.
The conference is held for one week every July. Business leaders from Bob Iger and Oprah to Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook are regularly in attendance.
As Business Insider’s Taylor Nicole Rogers previously reported, the cheapest booking for just one night at the Sun Valley Lodge costs $495 a night, with the most expensive room going for $1,600 a night. The resort also has bowling lanes, an ice-skating rink, a full-service spa, various on-site restaurants, and an event space.
Some pointed the finger at the annual Black Summit of the National Brotherhood of Skiers, blaming it for a surge of cases in the Blaine County area. The summit saw nearly 700 people arrive in Sun Valley, according to the Wall Street Journal. Hundreds of them have since tested positive for the virus.
The annual Black Summit of the National Brotherhood of Skiers, the largest black ski and snowboard association in the world, took place in the Blaine County city of Ketchum and nearby Sun Valley from March 1 to March 7. At the time, the virus’ presence was reported in the US, but cases hadn’t reached the level they’re at now and formal lockdown measures hadn’t yet been implemented to slow the virus’ spread.
The Wall Street Journal reported that since the conference, numerous members of the National Brotherhood of Skiers have tested positive, others have been hospitalized, and at least two have died.
Some residents suggested that this could be one of the reasons the county is seeing such a spike in cases, though representatives of the NBS have denied that summit attendees are the ones who brought the coronavirus to Sun Valley.
“I don’t know how we got it,” Henri Rivers, the president of NBS, told the Wall Street Journal. “I know we didn’t bring it.”
Source: Wall Street Journal
But the mayor of Ketchum says there’s no use in passing the blame around.
“There’s no use in finger-pointing about where this came from. We’ve just got to get on with it and manage it the best we can,” Neil Bradshaw, the mayor of Ketchum, told Buzzfeed. “We’re officially working with two groups on an antibody study. We’re so bad that we’re perfect for it — the perfect sample size for the rest of the country. That’s felt good, because it’s something that we can do. We can try to lead the charge for our county, for our state, and for the nation in finding a solution.”