Swenson: Woodburn mayor urges community to stay informed, remain calm and proceed with caution in face of COVID-19
The president, the governor and the Woodburn City Council have all declared a state of emergency in response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. At this stage of the pandemic it is our hope that it is more accurate to say that we are in a state of preventing an emergency.
It is important to be reminded that the most important things to do in any emergency are to remain calm, not panic, understand the facts, stay informed, proceed with caution and take the advice of those most knowledgeable.
It is clear that the Oregon Health Authority, working with Oregon cities and counties, is providing that leadership with facts and updates that you can access directly at the City of Woodburn's web page: www.woodburn-or.gov/health.
There you will learn that the novel coronavirus and influenza have similar symptoms that include high fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Influenza, still circulating in Oregon, is a much more likely cause of fever and cough than coronavirus, but it is important to contact your health provider by phone if you have any concerns or questions. In addition you can dial 211 (and not 911) if you have questions or would like more information about the coronavirus.
The city has taken the precautions of closing our library and aquatic center through April 1 and asking people to pay their water bills online, by phone or in the drop box outside City Hall. Please access the City's web and facebook pages for updates about all city services.
In moments of heightened concern like this, when we are likely more worried about our health and the health of our loved ones, and the world around us seems cattywampus like my father used to say, we can also take this moment to slow down and appreciate those around us more.
With the cancellation of nearly all activities, at the precise moment when we have less we have to do, there is less to do. As we spend more time at home without rushing off to the activity that's now canceled, maybe we'll eventually become bored with whatever is on our screens and turn our attention to those we live with. And maybe we'll even take a walk around the neighborhood and wave at our neighbors that we never see and talk with them - from six feet away.
While the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus is still very small, and the likelihood of surviving it if contracted is still very high, there is cause for concern. As we take those precautions seriously let us not be overtaken by fear. Too often fear replaces calm and then clouds our judgment and we are prone to rumors, scams and divisive conspiracy theories. When that happens, we should hear Franklin Roosevelt's words on the subject and answer that fear with reason.
Speaking of reason, as your mayor I have preached the need for all of us to be prepared in the case of a natural disaster, like an earthquake, by stocking up on key items - and this is an appropriate time for that. Having said that, please leave some toilet paper on the shelves for your neighbors.
Like every virus, this one will run its course. Our country and our community have weathered many health related crisis throughout our history, and by remaining calm, staying informed and taking precautions we will weather this one as well.
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