The Astoria City Council joined the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners on Monday in declaring an emergency over the threat of a coronavirus outbreak, opening the way for state and federal support as the crisis ratchets up.
Mayor Bruce Jones said the gravity of the situation seemed to finally be sinking in with most initial naysayers.
“Now we know it’s just about here,” Jones said. “I’m certain there are people now in Clatsop County walking around with the infection. They haven’t been tested yet. And those infections will start to spread soon.”
City Manager Brett Estes said the declaration helps the city to take needed actions beyond what the state and county have done, hire contractors if staffing is affected by the virus, purchase necessary materials and get reimbursed for costs associated with the virus.
Starting Monday, the City Council began livestreaming meetings on the city’s Facebook page. The city closed City Hall and other buildings to walk-in visitors and limited access to appointment only through the end of March.
City staff is curtailing work on code amendments and other items that invite public participation, Estes said, with public meetings limited to 25 people by Gov. Kate Brown’s decree. Although city staff is delaying work on code amendments, it must still hold meetings on land use decisions, he said.
Astoria Police Department and Astoria Fire Department have closed lobbies to walk-in traffic. They are encouraging people to do business online or by phone.
In a Facebook live update Monday evening, Warrenton Mayor Henry Balensifer said there was no immediate reason for his city to declare an emergency beyond what the state and county had done. Warrenton City Hall had remained open, but the city had requested people not visit unless necessary.
Warrenton has now closed City Hall to walk-in traffic. The Warrenton Library has also closed.
The Cannon Beach City Council adopted an emergency resolution Monday that allows the city manager to take immediate action in response to the outbreak. The resolution is in effect until at least April 13.
City Hall will be closed to visitors except by appointment. Employees will work from home as possible.
Local events and festivals, including the city’s 12 Days of Earth Day, might be postponed until later in the year.
The Haystack Rock Awareness Program will continue its beach program. The city’s recycling depot also will stay open.
Gearhart also closed City Hall and other public buildings, with appointments available for essential meetings.
In Seaside, the city closed the public library and police and fire buildings and canceled several public meetings through the end of the month. The City Council will meet on Monday with limited seating.
No events are scheduled at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center through late April.