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Sandpoint and northern Idaho news and information from our town’s leading sources. Featuring news links from the Sandpoint Reader, and the Sandpoint Online Newsroom. Check the archives of Sandpoint Magazine, read features from local bloggers, writers and more.

Coronavirus news & resources
Local news, announcements and actions concerning the coronavirus.

Current local and state coronavirus case reports 11/25/2020 @ 6:05 p.m.
There were 31 new cases of the COVID-19 virus confirmed in Bonner County in the past day, while among the five northern Idaho counties there were 185 new cases and three additional deaths in Kootenai County, the Panhandle Health District reported Wednesday. The total case count to date in Bonner County is 939, of which 265 are classified as active. The total case count in the five counties covered by the health district as of Wednesday is 9,160 cases, of which 2,641 are classified as active. There have been 106 total fatalities in the five-county region, with 465 hospitalizations and 74 currently hospitalized. Statistics by county in our region are as follows:

  • Kootenai County: 7,133 total cases, 2,084 active | 75 deaths
  • Bonner County: 939 total cases, 265 active | 4 deaths
  • Benewah County: 270 total cases, 62 active | 3 deaths
  • Boundary County: 336 total cases, 118 active | 2 death
  • Shoshone County: 482 total cases, 112 active | 22 deaths

The health district provides assessments of each county's risk levels to provide guidance for business and school district operations. On Wednesday all five counties remained assessed at red, or "substantial, the highest risk level. Click for risk level criteria. With its mask mandate announced November 19 (see details in next highlighted item), the health district now requires all citizens to wear face coverings when near others in public, and asks everyone to be vigilant in distancing and sanitation. For Panhandle Health District's latest news releases, click to its News page or Facebook @PanhandleHealth.

Statewide, on Wednesday Idaho state reported 1,773 new cases in the past day, for a total of 96,503 confirmed cases to date. There were 21 new deaths reported around the state, bringing total fatalities to 895. An additional 4,425 were tested the past day, for 464,446 Idahoans tested to date. Of the total confirmed cases around the state, 39,199 are estimated recovered. There have been 3,817 cases hospitalized to date, with 715 admissions to ICU. Washington state on Wednesday reported 2,887 new cases the past day, for 153,906 confirmed cases to date, with 14 additional deaths for 2,704 fatalities to date. Testing data for Washington is not currently available. Spokane County on Wednesday reported 848 new cases the past day, for 15,324 cases to date, with one additional fatality for 247 deaths to date.

Health District board issues mask mandate 11/19/2020 @ 3:55 p.m.
With COVID-19 cases spiking and hospitals nearing capacity in the five northern Idaho counties, the Panhandle Health District Board of Health on November 19 issued a mask mandate that "every person in Kootenai, Benewah Bonner, Boundary and Shoshone counties is required to wear a face covering that completely covers the person's nose and mouth when the person is in a public place and physical distancing of 6 feet from others cannot be maintained." There are some exceptions, but violations may incur a fine or imprisonment, the order states. It's in effect for 60 days. Click to read PHD order.

County reduces operations; links to city, county info sites 11/19/2020
Bonner County on November 19 announced reduced staffing measures and operations in order to help keep employees safe as COVID-19 caseloads increase locally. Click for department operations. The Bonner County Emergency Operations Center is collecting and managing information regarding local COVID-19. Click to email Bonner County EOC or call 208-255-6901. More links for information from Bonner County and City of Sandpoint:

Canadian border closure extended to at least December 21 11/19/2020
Canada's CBC news service reported, via tweet on November 18, that Canada will be extending its border closure for non-essential travel until December 21 due to the rising COVID-19 rates in the U.S. All persons entering Canada via air are required to isolate or quarantine themselves for 14 days. Click for story. The Trump administration on March 18 closed the border with Canada to all non-essential travel, and Canada subsequently applied its own closure. The closures stop all non-essential travel through the two Idaho border crossing stations at Porthill and Eastport, 60 miles north of Sandpoint.

Idaho regresses to Stage 2 as case loads continue higher 11/14/2020
After regressing the state from Stage 4 to Stage 3 in October, on November 13, Idaho Gov. Brad Little moved the state back to Stage 2 of his Idaho Rebounds reopening plan – though with some modifications. The biggest impact of the move is on private and public gatherings, which will be limited to 10 people. Bars, nightclubs and some other businesses had to be closed in the original Stage 2, but not under Little's new order. They may remain open as long as they operate under coronavirus guidelines. With the pandemic worsening around the state, Little also announced he is mobilizing 100 members of the Idaho National Guard to support mobile testing, screenings and other logistics. Little did not institute a mask mandate, though he noted about half the state is under mask mandates from local government jurisdictions. Little called for individuals to step up their personal protections by maintaining distancing, wearing face masks in public, taking care to wash hands and sanitize surfaces, and staying home if sick.

Personal health resources
If you believe you may have the coronavirus, the Panhandle Health District has a hotline with operators to discuss symptoms and potentially provide a referral for testing. The PHD COVID-19 Hotline is 877-415-5225.

Links to help manage personal and family health:

Free food resources for local families and residents 10/15/2020
Here are food resources for those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

  • Expanded student meals. The Lake Pend Oreille School District provides free breakfast and lunch on weekdays, to those 18 years and under regardless of household income utilizing federal funding from the USDA. Details and applications at the district website,
  • Bonner Community Food Bank continues services but click to Food Bank website to check any changes in operations.
  • Free weekly meals. Everyone is welcome to take part in these free meals provided each week by churches and businesses:
      North Summit Church provide free meals to families in need. Pick up Mon-Fri 4-6 p.m. at 201 N. Division St, or Sagle Community of Christ Church, 950 Sagle Rd. (208) 263-4818
      Hoot Owl Cafe, Highway 200 in Ponderay, serves free dinners to go Mondays, 4-7 p.m. Just swing by.
      Agape Cafe hosted by the Seventh Day Adventist Church serves free lunch Tuesday 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at 221 S. Division (Church of God). (208) 263-3648
      United Methodist Church, 711 Main St, offers free to-go dinners Thursdays 4-6 p.m. No need to call ahead.
      St. Joseph Catholic Church, 601 S. Lincoln in Sandpoint, has free packaged to-go meals Fridays 4-6 pm. No need to call ahead. Enter at side door.
  • Other businesses and service groups are offering free food and meals. Go to Sandpoint Community Resource Center for current info and daily schedules.

'Support Local' listings of business operations 9/18/2020
Sandpoint's restaurants, shops, services, and churches have re-opened! With the state progressing through the governor's Idaho Rebounds stages to ensure safe re-opening of economic and social activities, most Sandpoint businesses have opened their doors. Click to the Support Local business directory to find info on hours and operations. Provided by the Sandpoint Chamber and Sandpoint Online. All businesses are invited to add their information with the form on the listings page.

Innovia Foundation provides grants to community groups 6/16/2020
The Innovia Foundation has announced a second rounds of grants from its COVID-10 Community Response and Recovery Funds, allocating $39,000 to 12 nonprofit organizations in Bonner and Boundary counties that are working to meet community needs raised by the virus. Innovia in April awarded more than $40,000 in a first round of grants to 15 area nonprofit groups. In Innovia's entire two-state region, several dozen major funding partners including the Equinox Foundation of Sandpoint, have contributed more than $2.7 million

SBA loans and help for businesses from state, Chamber, City, EDC 4/3/2020
The U.S. Government has enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, aka the CARES Act, a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill to assist businesses financially impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Small Business Administration effective April 3 is accepting applications for Paycheck Protection Program loans for staffing and payroll expenses, as well as Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Locally, the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce, City of Sandpoint and Bonner County EDC are taking steps to help businesses impacted by the coronavirus.

Relief bill enacted, provides $2 trillion for citizens, small businesses 3/27/2020
Congress passed, and the president today signed, a $2.2 trillion relief bill dubbed the CARES Act, to provide economic stimulus and aid to citizens. It expands unemployment benefits, will send direct payments of up to $1,200 to individuals, and provides federally guaranteed loans to small businesses.

Free public Internet hot spot activated downtown 3/27/2020
Ting, in conjunction with the City of Sandpoint and Matchwood Brewing, has activated a free drive-up hot spot for wi-fi Internet in the city parking lot directly east of Matchwood at 503 Oak Street. The free Internet is available 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Click for more information and map.

Contribute your computing power to find a cure 4/7/2020
Want to chip in on the computing power to stop the COVID-19 virus? You can help scientists solve world problems - like a cure for COVID - by adding your computer to a global network for research. See more at World Community Grid; locally you may email Roger at [email protected] to learn more.

Idaho governor extends stay-at-home orders 4/15/2020
Idaho Gov. Brad Little has extended his order for Idahoans to stay home to April, in the effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The order was initially imposed for 21 days, to end April 15. Essential activities, like going to grocery stores or picking up food from restaurants, still are allowed. Outdoor exercise near home is, too.

Idaho state parks remain open, but operations are reduced 3/25/2020
Visitor centers at Idaho state parks closed March 19, and camping was ordered suspended as of March 27. However, parks remain open for day use. All activities, group events and cabin rentals are discontinued. Visitor centers will stay closed through April, possibly longer. Read more at Idaho Parks.

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