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CO COVID-19 impacts: Latest local government, lawmaker info


Here are the latest Central Oregon agency and Oregon lawmaker announcements Monday regarding the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak:

Greg Walden Statement on FCC’s ‘Keep Americans Connected’ Pledge

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Representative Walden released a statement applauding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) pledge to ensure that rural America has access to broadband during the coronavirus outbreak:

“In times of need, it’s important we take an all hands on deck approach to protect the public health and safety of communities across the nation. With the continued spread of the coronavirus, we are seeing more people begin to work, learn, and receive health care at home. It is important that people who live in rural areas, like many Oregonians in my district, do not lose their access to broadband -- especially at this time.

“The FCC’s recent launch of the ‘Keep Americans Connected’ pledge to incentivize providers to waive late fees for low-income families and small businesses and expand access to Wi-Fi hotspots is welcome news for rural America. I applaud the FCC’s commitment to ensuring rural Oregonians are connected in this time of crisis. I also am grateful to all the private companies who are taking steps to further improve rural broadband access at this time." 

For more information on the FCC’s pledge, click here.

For more information on COVID-19, click here.


Merkley, Wyden, Colleagues Push Veterans Health Administration For Comprehensive Plans to Protect Veterans Against Coronavirus

Senators’ letter to VA requests additional details on agency’s response and preparedness

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden teamed up with 10 of their Senate colleagues to push the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to ensure that the agency is taking appropriate measures to protect those who served our nation from the coronavirus health crisis.

Merkley co-led the letter along with U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.

The Senators’ letter comes amid reports that additional residents of Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, Oregon, have tested positive for COVID-19—raising the total number of diagnosed individuals at the property to 10, and prompting a facility-wide lockdown. Additionally, a patient at the Portland VA Medical Center who tested positive for the virus died on Saturday.

“We write to request details regarding VA’s approach to coronavirus preparedness and how the Department’s response has changed. We recognize that the COVID-19 outbreak is an evolving situation, with a growing impact on the U.S. and global community, and want to ensure that the VA has all of the resources needed to keep veterans, staff, and communities safe,” the Senators wrote.

As a part of VA’s “Fourth Mission,” the Department may be called on to provide health care to individuals responding to or affected by a natural disaster or national emergency. In their letter, the Senators requested information on the agency’s efforts to increase response and preparedness; coordinate with federal, state, and local governments; provide quality screening and health care; secure funding; and improve communication with veterans and Veterans Service Organizations.

VA is the nation’s largest health care system with 172 medical facilities and 1,241 outpatient sites, 9 million enrolled veterans, and employing more than 322,000 staff across the country.

Merkley and Wyden were joined on the letter by Senators Tester (D-MT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Robert Casey (D-PA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The full text of the letter is available here.


Crook County/City of Prineville Friday news releases:

As novel coronavirus – aka COVID-19 – continues to spread, local health officials have stressed that the risk to Central Oregonians remains low.  Influenza continues to be a much more active threat to our community this time of year.  Crook County does not currently have any positive cases of COVID-19. 

Crook County Emergency Management with the support of Crook County Court and the City of Prineville today approved a County Emergency Health Declaration.  The local Health Department supports this declaration and recognizes that this will continue to support the county response to this incident.  This declaration will support the need for resources whether that is personnel or supplies.  It is consistent with the State Health Emergency Declaration and the National Health Emergency the President announced earlier today. 

Crook County and the City of Prineville wants you to know that in partnership with our local and neighboring Health Departments, Law Enforcement, school districts, the Central Oregon Emergency Information Network (COEIN), and medical community, which includes St. Charles Health System, the situation is being monitored very closely and following preparedness plans that are in place for any outbreak response.  Constant monitoring and tracking for the spread of the virus not only in Oregon but statewide and globally is ongoing. 

Crook County Judge Seth Crawford stated, “It is our goal to continue our preparedness efforts and to support our community at the highest possible level.  We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone and urge you to stay calm.  We hear your concerns and are addressing them.”

The leadership of the county and city respect the privacy of the community members and when there is a positive case announced there will be no release of any identifiable information to protect the patient and family members.  With that being said the safety of staff and community members are the highest priority and efforts will continue around releasing updates to the public with the most current information and guidelines available.

The joint city and county preparedness plans outline the process of mitigation, response and recovery for any emergency or disaster. 

Local Public Health and the Oregon Health Authority continue to recommend people in Oregon take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of many respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and influenza - The CDC is recommending non-pharmaceutical interventions to slow the spread of COVID-19, and other respiratory infections (including flu and pertussis) by taking everyday preventive actions, including:

  • If you feel sick, call ahead to your health care provider to discuss whether or not you need to be seen. 
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched.
  • Take care of your health overall. Staying current on your vaccinations, including flu vaccine, eating well and exercising all help your body stay resilient.
  • Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the US.
  • Stay home if you are sick and talk with your employer now about a plan if you do become ill and cannot show up for work.
  • It is advised that anyone with compromised immune systems, chronic medical conditions and the elderly not attend large events and practice social distancing to protect yourselves.

This week the state of Oregon announced a ban on gatherings of more than 250 people.  The city and county strongly believe in personal freedoms, including the right to assemble, but the statewide ban on large gatherings makes good sense, and needs to be followed.

There is much that is still unknown about the coronavirus, but what is known is that it is in our communities and we will see positive cases at some point.  It is recommended that individuals follow the guidelines being offered to help minimize the spread of the virus.  The same precautions are suggested for any communicable disease.

For more information or general questions contact:

Crook County Health Department

375 NW Beaver Street, Suite 100

Prineville, OR 97754

Office:  541-447-5165

You may also call 211 for general inquiries.  The call center is set up to take your calls. 


Prineville Adopts Resolution Declaring an Emergency

City is working closely with state and county agencies to monitor COVID-19 situation

 (PRINEVILLE, Ore)— In an emergency meeting today, Prineville City Council adopted a resolution declaring an emergency. There has not been an outbreak of the coronavirus in the county so far.

Earlier today, the Crook County Court declared a public health emergency within the boundaries of Crook County. The declaration of emergency will continue for thirty days, unless terminated or extended by the County Court.

Mayor Steve Uffelman says the City of Prineville is preparing for any possible appearance by the COVID-19 virus. Uffelman emphasized the declaration’s intention is to prepare, not panic, the community. “While there haven't been any confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, in Prineville so far, the city needs to be prepared in case the virus spreads to the area,” said Uffelman.

The declaration of a local health emergency allows the city and county to ramp up emergency planning, redirecting employees and resources in the case of an outbreak in Crook County.

“The city will continue to be proactive and take precautions to protect our residents and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Uffelman.

The City of Prineville is encouraging residents to do the following to reduce their risk of infection:

• If you are sick, stay home.  If symptoms persist, call your health care provider first.

• Cover your cough

• Sneeze into your elbow and not your hand

• Wash your hands

• Keep 6’ of separation from others

• Don’t shake hands and stay away from large crowds, especially if you are in a high-risk category

Individuals should familiarize themselves with recommendations to protect themselves from getting and spreading COVID-19.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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