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Virtual event intended to answer questions from community members about pandemic and local response

The COVID pandemic, rise of the delta variant and return of mask mandates has caused a lot of frustration and questions in the community.

Local health leaders are hoping to tackle those questions and give people answers about the pandemic, its toll on the community and what to expect in the future. So, Crook County Health Department is working with local partners, including St. Charles Prineville, to provide an update and answer questions about the COVID-19 pandemic and local response. The virtual event will be held on Monday, Oct. 4 at 5:30 p.m.

"We have presented in several public settings," said Katie Plumb, Health Department director, noting that they have spoken at a recent Crook County School Board and Prineville City Council meeting. "Each time we do so, there have been lots of questions posed in those settings."

Those questions, Plumb said, have primarily been posed to the boards instead of the presenting health officials, so the public health leaders wanted to take time to field frequently asked questions.

"We wanted to set up a forum where questions could be posed directly to us," she said.

"We're looking forward to partnering with the health department to present localized information about COVID and answer questions the community may have," added Todd Shields, vice president hospital administration for St. Charles Health System.

The session will be held virtually due to the continually high COVID case numbers locally. Health leaders will be gathering and compiling a list of frequently asked questions leading up to the event. Opportunities to submit questions will be widely available and promoted in a variety of formats leading up to the event, including via City of Prineville communication platforms.

"We will have a Facebook event page where people can pose questions ahead of time," Plumb said.

During the hour-long session, two panelists will start the event by presenting some basic initial data on the pandemic and its effects on Crook County.

"Then, we will open up for live Q&A and people will be able to submit questions, most likely via the chat feature," Plumb explained. "We will have a moderator who will present the questions to the panelists."

Plumb acknowledged that the pandemic has become an emotionally and politically charged event. She noted that people are exhausted, and not just because they are dealing with the virus.

"It has evolved to affect other aspects of our lives," she said. "It's so much more complex than just the medical issue now."

The session will deal with those complex issues, but Plumb stressed that it will still be addressed in the context of health impact and not dive into the political aspects of the pandemic.

"We are going to be speaking in our wheelhouse," she said. "We can speak to some of those other effects of just living in the pandemic, such as the toll this has on our mental health, the toll that this has on access to other forms of medical care."

The forum is scheduled for one hour, although Plumb said that time structure could be fluid depending on what topics the question-and-answer session covers. She said that extra time could be taken if there is a productive dialogue and it's taking longer to sufficiently answer a question.

"We'll try to take the time, but we also have to be respectful of our panelists," she said. "If we do run into a time crunch, which is very possible, we will continue to gather those questions and respond on our social media, on our website or we can follow up with a press release."

To submit questions in advance for the forum, go to xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


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