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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 9/19/2020 @ 4:35 p.m.
There were two new cases of the coronavirus confirmed in Bonner County Friday, while among the five counties of North Idaho there were 43 new cases but no additional deaths, the Panhandle Health District reported. The new cases in Bonner County bring the total here to date to 286, of which 32 are classified as active. The total case count in the five counties covered by the health district to date as of Friday is 3,128 cases. Of that total, 248 are active and 2,880 are inactive. There have been 184 hospitalizations to date with 17 currently hospitalized, and 55 total deaths in the five-county region. Case counts by county in our region are as follows:
Kootenai County: 2,444 | Bonner County: 286 | Benewah County: 133
Boundary County: 55 | Shoshone County: 210

The health district provides weekly assessments of each county's risk levels to provide guidance for business and school district decisions on their operations. On Friday, all five counties of Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai and Shoshone remained assessed at yellow, or minimal risk. Click for risk level criteria. The health district asks all citizens to be vigilant in distancing, use of masks and sanitation. For the Panhandle Health District's latest news releases, click to its News page or Facebook @PanhandleHealth.

Statewide, on Friday Idaho state reported 288 new cases since the previous day, for a total of 37,247 confirmed cases. Statewide fatalities increased by seven, to 441. An additional 1,693 were tested, for a total 286,830 tested to date statewide. Of the total confirmed cases around the state, 20,105 are considered recovered. There have been 1,711 cases hospitalized to date, with four new admissions to ICU for a total of 442 to date. Washington state on Saturday reported 82,199 confirmed cases, an increase from 81,198 on Thursday, with 16 additional fatalities for 2,037 to date. Total tested statewide is 1,723,040, an increase from 1,691,047 on Thursday. Spokane County on Saturday reported 6,175 confirmed cases to date, an increase from 6,018 on Thursday, with no additional deaths for 150 fatalities to date. A total of 81,568 have been tested in Spokane County, an increase from 80,018 tested as of Thursday.

Governor extends Stage 4 reopening to mid October 9/18/2020
Citing the statewide hospitalization rate, Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced in a September 18 news conference that the state will remain in Stage 4 of his reopening plan for at least two more weeks. "In nearly all the statewide metrics categories, we are seeing encouraging trends," the governor said. "However, our COVID hospitalizations statewide remain too high again to move out of Stage 4." In Stage 4 all businesses can open, though some must meet distancing and disinfection requirements. Little has not instituted mask mandates but has 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.

Canadian border closure continues until at least October 31 9/16/2020
The CBC reported Canada is extending its border closure until October 31 and said "Canadians should expect the possibility the border will remain closed for longer." Story from CBC. 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.

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

Links to help manage personal and family health:

'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.

Free food resources for local students and residents 6/1/2020
Here are food resources for all impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

  • Expanded student meals. The Lake Pend Oreille School District provides free breakfast and lunch sacks on weekdays, to those 18 years and under at the following sites. A supper sack will be provided at Farmin Stidwell and Kootenai Elementary schools. All sites are open to all, and children are not required to be present; a parent, guardian or sibling can pick up their meals. With schools now out for summer, a revised schedule may come after June 5. Details at
      - Clark Fork Jr./Sr. High School 11 am- 1 pm PST
      - Kootenai Elementary School 11 am-1 pm PST
      - Farmin Stidwell Elementary School 11 am- 1 pm PST
      - Southside Elementary School 11 am- 1 pm PST
  • Pack River Store has free sack lunches for porch pickup at the store and also other locations on set days; see more on Pack River Store Facebook.
  • Eureka Institute is partnering with local restaurants to provide free meals three days per week: Tostada Tuesdays with Eichardt's Pub & Grill, Wrap & Soup Thursdays with Matchwood Brewing and Community Curry on Fridays at Sandpoint Curry. The grub's free, but donations gratefully accepted to support this effort. Click for details.
  • Bonner Community Food Bank continues but click to Food Bank website to check changes in operations.
  • Free weekly meals. Everyone is welcome to take part in these free meals provided each week by churches and businesses:
      Arlo's has free take-out lunches for kids Mon-Fri, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Pick up at 124 Second Ave. (208) 255-4186
      North Summit Church provide free meals to families in need. Pck 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 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 a free soup kitchen 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 most current info and schedules.

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

Current information from county and city; links to info sites 5/28/2020
Bonner County and the City of Sandpoint release periodic information relating to the coronavirus outbreak. Following are current releases from City and County.

Volunteer to sew masks or help others during the COVID-19 outbreak 4/13/2020
Groups and individuals are organizing various efforts to help meet needs in our community. Can you volunteer? Here are places to start:

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.

Announced changes to operations, local closures 4/6/2020
Announcements from agencies, groups and businesses. Click links to read details.

Secretary of State: Voting for May 19 primary by mail only 4/13/2020
Due to efforts to reduce spread of the coronavirus, the Idaho Secretary of State has ruled Idaho's May 19 primary election will be conducted by mail only, utilizing the absentee voting process. Click to complete information, including links for voter registration and absentee ballots, at Idaho Votes. For local election information with information on all races plus links for voting, go to Sandpoint Election Central.

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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