City events canceled by coronavirus protocols

by Caroline Lobsinger
Staff Writer | March 25, 2020 1:00 AM

Non-flushable items are finding way into sewers

COCOLALLA — If it isn’t toilet paper, don’t flush it. That’s the message from the Southside Water and Sewer District.

“It’s a delicate subject, but this is the truth: Only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed down your toilet,” said the district’s Julie MacDonald. “However, our wastewater treatment professionals find a wide variety of items in our sewers and collection facilities, including cellphones, toys, and, unfortunately, a lot of wipes and grease.”

With the shortages of toilet paper on the grocery shelves due to the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, MacDonald said the community can help out by never flushing items like diapers and baby wipes — even those labeled “flushable. Also on the don’t-flush list: tampons and sanitary pads, personal care wipes, cleaning/disinfecting wipes, disposable toilet brushes, paper towels and tissues, “disposable” contact lenses, cigarette butts, dental floss and toothpicks, and cat litter.

“Unlike toilet paper, which breaks down quickly in water, personal, baby and cleaning/disinfecting wipes remain intact and tangle into massive clogs that jam pumps and block pipes,” MacDonald said.

Other items never to flush include medication of any kind, prescription or over the counter; and fats, oils and grease — the top cause of sewer blockages in homes. Instead, let the fat, oils and grease harden in a can or carton and then dispose of it in your garbage. If you have a lot of grease, you can recycle it. And for medication, check with your pharmacist or local law enforcement for proper disposal of medication.

“Proper disposal of these substances means you are doing your part to protect our water resources,” said MacDonald.

Like the local Easter egg hunts, another community tradition has been canceled due to the pandemic. City officials confirmed the annual Lou Domanski Chess Festival, set for April 4, had been canceled due to as part of the COVID-19 restrictions issued by the city of Sandpoint last Wednesday. As part of the restrictions, all Sandpoint Parks & Recreation activities, programs, classes were canceled until April 30.

While Spokane Teachers Credit Union announced last week it is temporarily closing some of its branch locations during the coronavirus outbreak, credit union officials said its facilities plan calls for maintaining full services at more than half of the credit union’s 23 branch locations in the Spokane region, North Idaho and Tri-Cities, Wash. It will leave drive-through lanes open at most other locations. The plan called for closing only five branch locations by early this week, and maintaining full service at remote locations like Newport and Bonner County.

All external ATMs will remain open. In addition, STCU encourages its members to use online banking and the STCU mobile app to access their accounts, transfer money, pay bills, deposit checks and more. In addition, the credit union is limiting the number of members in some branch lobbies at any given time. That number will vary depending on branch size.

All branches will reopen as soon as the health crisis has ended, said Ezra Eckhardt, STCU President and CEO.

As of Tuesday, Panida Theater officials said the historic theater remains open for main theater films only with limited seating to ensure social distancing in the 500-seat theater. Only staff will be working with no volunteers helping out. In addition, Panida officials said extra cleaning protocols would be taking place.

In Kootenai County, the Panhandle Health District and Kootenai Health confirmed two additional cases of novel coronavirus Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases to eight in the Panhandle area. There are no reported cases in Bonner or Boundary counties.

The first case is a female in her 20s from Kootenai County. The woman is self-isolating at home. The second is a male in his 60s from Kootenai County, who also is self-isolating at home. Contact tracing is ongoing in both cases.

In the United States, there have been 44,183 cases and 544 deaths as of noon Tuesday.

Epidemiologists with PHD are working to investigate cases of possible contact. All household members of confirmed cases have been asked to self-isolate at home for a prescribed period of time. If other people are found to have been exposed, health officials will provide guidance to these individuals and they will be asked to self-monitor for the development of symptoms.

PHD will continue to monitor the situation closely and are working with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, city leaders, schools, emergency management, healthcare providers, and our community at large to help prevent the spread of this virus.

People ill with this coronavirus in other states and countries have reported mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. If community members have these symptoms and they become severe, they should call PHD’s call center at 1-877-415-5225 or their provider. PHD will provide an over-the-phone assessment to determine if someone should be tested. Please call, do not come into PHD or your provider’s office.

CDC does not generally issue advisories or restrictions for travel within the United States. However, cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been reported in many states, and some areas are experiencing community spread of the disease. Crowded travel settings, like airports, may increase chances of getting COVID-19, if there are other travelers with coronavirus infection. There are several things you should consider when deciding whether it is safe for you to travel. Check the CDC’s guidance on things to consider prior to travel. For additional travel guidance and advisories, go online to cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html .

Caroline Lobsinger can be reached by email at clobsinger@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @CarolDailyBee.