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It's a new world

Coronavirus strain is changing us locally, regionally

Members of the Oregon Military Department and maintenance crews from Camp Rilea and Providence Seaside Hospital erect military tents in the emergency entrance parking lot on March 18. The tents will be used for testing and triaging the public. (Aaron Perkins/Oregon National Guard)
By Cindy Yingst, Thursday, March 19, 2020

Spring is associated with nature and human renewal, daffodils blooming and robins feasting on the first mowed lawn of the year.

Yet we’ll look back on Spring 2020 as the point when our lives changed.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was declared a pandemic last week. And, by the time you read this, there will be more change, more disruption, more panic and pain.

Nothing is as it was.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued back-to-back-to-back executive orders, cancelling all events of 250 or more, then closing the schools, then shutting down bars and eateries.

Wall Street crashed and a panicked populace has decimated store shelves of toilet paper, cleaning supplies and even food.

Most travel has ceased and only essential services seem to be open for business. Every cog in the economic wheel has paused.

Church services, weddings, and visits to grandma’s house or rest home are no more. And it will get worse before it gets better.

Statisticians, epidemiologists and other scientists predict at least two weeks from the imposition of last weekend’s closures and stay-at-home orders before the numbers of dead and sick stop climbing.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday – shortly before this newspaper was sent to the printer – there were 215,000 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide. There have been 8,732 total deaths and 83,313 people who have recovered after catching the virus.

In the state of Oregon, there were 75 positive cases and three deaths as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

There had been no positive cases in Clatsop County, but that doesn’t mean it’s not here.

Test samples from Clatsop County residents are being submitted daily to the state’s Public Health Lab as well as to two private labs. None has come back positive, yet few people in the county have been tested. The number of tests administered wasn’t available because doctors and private clinics are submitting the tests and only the positives are reported to the state, according to the county.

“Many labs, public and private, are working hard to ramp up their capacity to test more samples and the expectation is that, in a very short time frame, there will be a considerable expansion of access to testing,” according to a statement from Clatsop County Public Health Department.

Here is a look at the disease’s impact as of Wednesday.

Worldwide

8,732 total deaths worldwide (with 83,313 total recovered) and the top four countries/areas:

3,122 deaths in Hubei, China, (with 56,927 recovered)

2,978 deaths in Italy

1,135 deaths in Iran

623 deaths in Spain

The World Health Organization declares the outbreak an Emergency of International Concern on Jan. 3 and put a name to it (COVID-19) on Feb. 11. It’s declared a global pandemic on March 11.

United States

7,769 confirmed cases and 107 deaths.

President Trump declares the outbreak a national emergency on March 13.

Statewide

75 confirmed cases and 3 deaths (as of 5 p.m. March 18)

Governor declares a state of emergency on March 8.

Meetings, groups and gatherings of more than 25 people are banned in March 17 executive order. It’s recommended Oregonians avoid gatherings of 10 or more.

Public schools are closed effective March 16 through at least April 28. Private and tribal schools are not required to close. Public schools will continue to receive funding and all employees will continue to be paid if the school continues to offer meal programs.

All restaurants, bars, and other retailers that sell food and drink are prohibited from offering on-premises consumption, although take-out, drive-through and delivery meals are allowed, through at least April 14. Shelter and meal programs for vulnerable populations are allowed.

Visitation is prohibited at long-term care and other residential facilities, state prisons and state hospitals effective March 16.

All play on state video lottery terminals closed down effective at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Oregon Department of Human Services eliminated child-care co-payments for eligible families and made more families eligible; instead of 185 percent of the federal poverty level ($4,040 per month for a family of four) the income level was raised to 250 percent of the poverty level (or $5,899 per month).

The Unemployment Department eased its rules for those seeking benefits who are temporarily laid off. Affected employees do not need to seek other work to qualify. The number of initial unemployment insurance claims filed in Oregon rose from 800 on March 16 to 18,500 on March 18.

County

Clatsop County Commissioners declared a state of emergency on Monday.

Members of the Oregon Military Department at Camp Rilea joined state and local maintenance crews to set up military tents at Providence Seaside Hospital. The tents will be used for testing and triaging the public who may have fallen ill from the virus.

Cities

The city of Astoria declared a state of Emergency. Astoria City Hall is closed with appointments only. Astoria Public Library, the Aquatic Center, and recreation programs are closed through March 31. Columbia River Maritime Museum, the Flavel House and other Historical Society sites are closed. City parks are open.

Gearhart City Hall is closed to the public. There will be no utility shut-offs or late fees during the closure and the city will waive all credit card processing fees to those paying online.

Seaside City Hall is open and Monday’s City Council meeting is expected to be held.

Cannon Beach declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and closed City Hall to the public.

Warrenton

Warrenton City Hall is open. No decision had been made by Wednesday evening about closing and Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting still was scheduled.

All public school classes, sporting events, music programs and other activities ceased at least through the end of spring break.

Children’s and adult programs at Warrenton Community Library were cancelled.

The April 4 Easter Egg Hunt and Breakfast with the Easter Bunny were cancelled.

The senior meal program at Warrenton Community Center was cancelled until May 4.

Little snippet of good news: Main Street Market, Sunset Empire Transportation Department, Fred Meyer and Walmart all announced they’re hiring people to help fill shelves or clean during the outbreak.


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