Fairview, Troutdale, Wood Village leaders urge caution amid COVID-19 crisis
The city of Wood Village on Friday joined Gresham in declaring a State of Emergency to help curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, while leaders of Troutdale and Fairview urge extra caution and hygiene, implement new policies and closely monitor the dynamic situation.
In a statement issued Friday morning, March 13, Wood Village Mayor Scott Harden and City Manager Greg Dirks explained what the emergency declaration covers.
"To help ensure the safety and economic well being of the community, the city of Wood Village declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 Virus. While there are no known cases within the city, the mayor and elected official understand that this virus will impact all of us in some way," the statement said. "The emergency declaration specifically authorizes suspending water/sewer shut offs for non-payment, as well as suspending late fees ... Residents and businesses will still receive a water and sewer bill, but there will be no late fees or shut-offs in March."
In compliance with Gov. Brown's request earlier this week, Wood Village also suspends non-essential meetings and events. Wood Village's 32nd annual Easter Egg Hunt held at Donald L. Robertson City Park is canceled.
"I applaud the response of (Gov. Kate Brown) and our county commissioners," Harden said in the statement. "In my mind they are taking the appropriate level of precaution when they call for the cancellation of events where a large number of persons are coming in close contact with one another. People's lives could be in the balance, so it is important that we err on the side of caution as well."
Troutdale Mayor Casey Ryan also shared his concerns and city plans regarding COVID-19 in a statement on Thursday afternoon, March 12.
"The city of Troutdale is doing everything within its power to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and protect our citizens," Ryan said. "Federal, state and county governments have already disseminated substantial information for the public, and there is not much more for the city to add or do."
Ryan and city officials encourage all citizens "to wash their hands frequently, avoid unnecessary physical contact with others, cover any cough or sneeze and stay home if you are sick" and asking employees to do the same.
Troutdale also is not allowing large public events for at least a month.
"The most important thing the city can do is to make sure that the essentially functions of government — water, sewer, police and fire services — are not compromised or interrupted," Ryan said. "The city wants to make it clear that we do not anticipate any problem providing these services for the duration of the emergency."
In Fairview, Mayor Brian Cooper said city officials have been working diligently to maintain a safe and COVID-19-free environment in and around City Hall on Northeast Village Street. Along with daily updating from state, as as well as Multnomah County health officials, the city has instituted a sanitizing policy at City Hall and other municipal offices, and is monitoring staff to ensure the city is responsive to residents.
The city also has suspended water-disconnection for non-payment to help ease the burden on residents.
"Luckily, we do not have any large events until Easter scheduled," Cooper said. "We will reassess the conditions in East County when the event gets closer." ?
Officials with Wood Village, the smallest of the three cities north and east of Gresham, are harkening back to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic to address the growing concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.
"We are cross training other staff on the basic operations of the utility systems within our city in the event that we have reduced staff. We learned a lot from H1N1 over a decade ago and already had plans and supplies in place for this type of event," City Manager Greg Dirks said Thursday. "We implemented increased cleanings and hand sanitizer at the door (at the city's temporary City Hall offices off of Northeast Halsey Street) over two weeks ago, and stressed the importance to staff of staying at home if feeling ill."
Wood Village city officials have focused on ensuring essential operations like water and sewer services can continue to operate.
"We have a smaller staff at Wood Village, and we have a duty and obligation to ensure that regardless of how this pandemic evolves, the people and businesses of Wood Village have safe, clean drinking water, and running sewer systems," Greg Dirks said.
Wood Village Mayor Harden emphasized the importance of precautions issued by the Oregon Health Authority and federal health officials, including:
n Washing hands often with soap and water. If not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
n Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
n Avoid close contact with people who are sick,
n Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
n Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw it away. If you don't have a tissue, cough into your elbow.
n Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that you frequently touch.
"I also applaud the response of our governor and our county commissioners," Harden said. "In my mind, they are taking the appropriate level of precaution when they call for the cancellation of events where a large number of persons are coming in close contact with one another. People's lives could be in the balance so it is important that we err on the side of caution."
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