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Astoria declares emergency over coronavirus

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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.


A discarded face mask sits on the ground along the Astoria Riverwalk.

“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.

Nicole Bales and

R.J. Marx of The Astorian contributed to this report.

Edward Stratton is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 971-704-1719 or

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(1) comment

Freddie Astaire

Fear mongering does not do anything to help lessen the concerns that we all face together, especially our business community. Mayor Bruce says he's certain that someone is walking around with the virus. Stoking fear only makes the situation worse. As of today, there are no presumptive or positive cases of coronavirus in Clatsop County. Let's keep it this way by practicing good hygiene and social distancing.

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Coronavirus FAQ

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Can I get COVID-19 from my pets or other animals?

There is no reason at this time to think that any animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States.

Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, such as washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene.

Should I avoid contact with pets or other animals if I am sick with COVID-19?

You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the new coronavirus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets.

What about imported animals or animal products?

CDC does not have any evidence to suggest that imported animals or animal products pose a risk for spreading COVID-19 in the United States.

What precautions should be taken for animals that have recently been imported from outside the United States?

At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets and service animals, can spread COVID-19. As with any animal introduced to a new environment, animals recently imported should be observed daily for signs of illness. If an animal becomes ill, the animal should be examined by a veterinarian. Call your local veterinary clinic before bringing the animal into the clinic and let them know that the animal was recently imported from another country.

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