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Five more residents tested for COVID-19

County encourages precautionary measures

DAYTON– Five more Columbia County residents were tested for coronavirus over the weekend with results expected by mid-week, Martha Lanman, administrator for Columbia County Public Health Department, reported in last Monday's Board of County Commissioner meeting with department heads.

Columbia County department heads evaluated where things stood in response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) during the meeting on March 16. They reviewed previous proclamations made by Governor Jay Inslee as to the school closing, limiting groups from 250 to 50 then recommending only groups of 10 while practicing "social distancing." To advance the effort to diminish contact with the virus, Inslee's mandate closed restaurants, bars and other facilities, such as those used for recreation of various kinds.

Lanman told the meeting that she plans to have a community press release every Monday afternoon on the Health Department website for the public to stay informed of the latest in the county, but the Health Department welcomes calls with any questions or concerns.

The Health Department is encouraging county and city officials, as well as the public, to work from home, whenever possible. Another suggestion offered was working on-site after hours. At minimum, the social distancing and sanitation guidelines are expected to be followed. Unnecessary meetings should be cancelled.

Some offices will close to the public, or be open only by appointment. This includes city and county offices. The public is asked to handle business online, by phone, by mail or by drop box, whenever possible.

Whitman County Superior Court Judge Gary Libey, temporary presiding judge for the Hells Canyon Circuit (Columbia, Garfield and Asotin counties), has cancelled jury trials scheduled for the period of March 16 through April 6. All other court functions will continue, with precautions taken.

The hospital administration reported that though visitation of patients is suspended, appointments are being taken. They are trying to look into tele-conferencing for some appointments. The staff is currently conducting COVID-19 tests in vehicles only.

The virus hit the state while Columbia County is recovering from the early February flood. Public Works is still overwhelmed with flood work. As with flood damages, Ashley Strickland of the County Emergency Management Office, said residents should document every way that they are negatively impacted by the proclamations under the State of Emergency, particularly businesses that have closed or have suspended some operations. Some local restaurants are offering take-out options and community support is vital for their success through this time.