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City Manager Martha Bennett issued the declaration Sunday. The City Council may ratify it Monday.

PMG PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL  - Lake Oswego City Manager Martha Bennett has declared a state of emergency.Lake Oswego has declared a local state of emergency over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The city government announced Sunday afternoon, March 22, that City Manager Martha Bennett had signed an emergency declaration.

The declaration is effective immediately, but it is subject to ratification and extension by the Lake Oswego City Council, which will hold an electronic meeting Monday evening, March 23.

During the state of emergency, the city may "relax or adjust" code enforcement, including its parking ordinances, according to the text of Bennett's order.

The city government may also redirect city funds or bypass normal procurement procedures to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Water customers won't have their water shut off for failure to pay bills during the emergency. Other utility billing could be suspended as well.

Additionally, many of Lake Oswego's public buildings are closed until at least April 28. The Lake Oswego Public Library, Adult Community Center and other prominent buildings were previously closed. Lake Oswego City Hall and other city buildings, including fire stations, are now closed as well.

All city board and commission meetings and other public meetings — except for City Council meetings — are canceled through April 28.

Council meetings will be held electronically while the state of emergency is in effect. The city says it will provide "electronic access" so that the public and members of the media can continue to listen to meetings.

The state of emergency is set to expire before midnight Monday unless the City Council votes to ratify and extend it. The city said the council can extend the emergency until April 5, and it may vote to extend it further.

"The declaration allows the city to adjust our operations as needed to prioritize core services," Bennett said in a statement. "We must continue to deliver water, provide fire and police services, and keep our infrastructure operating. We also need the flexibility to encourage and enable social distancing and to provide some relief to residents, businesses and city staff."

Several other cities in the region, including neighboring Portland and Tigard, have already declared emergencies as well.

The novel coronavirus can cause the viral illness COVID-19. Since the first case was detected in Oregon on Feb. 28 — a Washington County resident who works at Forest Hills Elementary School in Lake Oswego — 160 more have been announced as of midday Sunday. Five Oregonians have died from the disease, which is thought to spread via respiratory droplets, such as from a cough or sneeze, that collect on surfaces.

By Mark Miller
Washington County Editor
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