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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.

Local and regional vaccination report 2/25/2021
The Idaho vaccine dashboard on Thursday reported Bonner County has to date vaccinated 6,057 individuals, up from 5,935 reported the previous day. Of those who have received vaccinations here, 3,329 have had their first dose, and 2,728 have received their second dose and are fully vaccinated. The five-county Panhandle Health District as of Thursday has vaccinated a total 32,629, up from 31,275 the previous day, with 17,666 of those receiving their first dose and 14,963 their second dose. Statewide, the Idaho Division of Public Health reported a total 227,519 people have received vaccinations, up from 223,152 the previous day; of those, 119,017 have received their first dose, and 108,502 people have received their second dose.

Bonner General Health has registration open for the 1A/1B categories, which includes care providers, first responders, educators and others in positions requiring more public contact. BGH is accepting new registrations for those over age 65, although there is still a lengthy the waiting list.

Additionally in Bonner County, vaccinations are administered at Sandpoint Super Drug (phone 208-263-1408 to enter their queue) and Kaniksu Health Services (click to the KHS website for queue information).

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and Panhandle Health District provide state and regional vaccination information. Click to get further details:

Current local and regional coronavirus case reports 2/25/2021 @ 5:25 p.m.
There were three new cases of the COVID-19 virus confirmed in Bonner County the past day with two additional deaths here, among 44 new cases overall in the five North Idaho counties with six additional deaths in Kootenai County, the Panhandle Health District reported Thursday. The total case count to date in Bonner County is 2,962, of which 229 are classified as active, while there have been 32 deaths to date in the county. The total coronavirus cases reported in the five counties covered by the health district to date are 21,988 of which 2,100 are considered active. There have been 261 total fatalities in the five-county region, with 1,058 hospitalizations and 20 currently hospitalized. Case statistics by county in our health district are as follows:

  • Kootenai County: 16,610 total cases, 1,605 active | 180 deaths
  • Bonner County: 2,962 total cases, 229 active | 32 deaths
  • Benewah County: 600 total cases, 68 active | 7 deaths
  • Boundary County: 817 total cases, 104 active | 10 deaths
  • Shoshone County: 999 total cases, 97 active | 32 deaths

The health district provides assessments of each county's risk levels to provide guidance for business and school district operations. On Thursday Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai and Benewah counties remained at orange, or moderate risk, after declining the past two weeks from the highest level of red, or "substantial," risk. Shoshone County remained at yellow, or minimal risk. Click for risk level criteria. On January 28 the health district reaffirmed its requirement instituted in November, that all citizens must wear face coverings when near others in public, and it asks everyone to be vigilant in distancing and sanitation. See details on the mask mandate in the highlighted item below. For Panhandle Health District's latest news releases, click to its News page or Facebook @PanhandleHealth.

Current Idaho and Washington case reports 2/25/2021 @ 5:35 p.m.
On Thursday Idaho state reported there were 306 new confirmed and probable virus cases statewide in the past day, for a total of 170,595 cases to date. There were 10 new deaths reported, bringing the statewide total to 1,850 deaths to date. Another 1,219 individuals were tested the past day, for 636,533 Idahoans tested to date. Of the total confirmed cases around the state, 93,679 are estimated recovered. There have been 7,057 cases hospitalized to date, with 1,228 admissions to ICU. Of the total confirmed cases to date, 10,310 are classified as asymptomatic. Washington state Wednesday reported 336,565 total cases statewide to date, up from 335,693 the previous day. The state reported 31 additional deaths in the past day, for 4,912 deaths statewide to date, with a total 5,167,513 tested to date. Spokane County on Wednesday reported 106 new COVID cases, for 36,140 total COVID cases to date, with four new deaths for 551 deaths to date. A total 99,595 vaccine doses have been given in the county as of Wednesday, an increase from 97,931 the previous day.

Canadian border closure extended to at least March 21 2/19/2021
U.S. government announced February 19 that the land border with Canada will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least March 21. For its part, Canada has shown little interest in lifting the restrictions and has imposed new COVID-19 testing requirements for some Canadians returning by land crossings. Essential travel, including certain workers and transportation of goods, is still allowed to cross the border. All persons entering Canada via air are required to isolate or quarantine themselves for 14 days. Click for story. The new 30-day extension is the first announced under President Joe Biden. The former Trump administration on March 18, 2020 first closed the border with Canada to all non-essential travel, and Canada has subsequently applied its own closure with extensions monthly. The closures stop all non-essential travel through the two Idaho border crossing stations at Porthill and Eastport, 60 miles north of Sandpoint.

Health District board renews mask mandate 1/28/2021
With COVID-19 cases remaining high and hospitals operating near capacity in the five northern Idaho counties, the Panhandle Health District Board of Health on January 28 reaffirmed its 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 90 days, into April. Click to read PHD January 28 order.

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:

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:

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.

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.

'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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