Local entities collaborate, discuss COVID-19 battle preparations
April 9, 2020
DAYTON-In the wake of the COVID-19 event, representatives from city, county and state offices met to review and update participants regarding the constraints and available care to the public during a virtual meeting of the Economic Development Steering Committee April 7.
Shane McGuire, CEO of Columbia County Health System, said the volume of patients being seen or admitted is purposely down to curb the risk of potential transmission of the virus. The clinic and hospital are being selective about who is seen or admitted. Secure virtual visits are being set up for care providers with patients. McGuire noted that patients with chronic conditions need care to avoid complications.
The clinic is open for visits and patients can be seen in person if it cannot be handled by phone or otherwise. Emergency services are still available but people are asked to call ahead for screening, unless it’s an urgent situation in which they should dial 911.
McGuire spoke of the benefit to the community if it spreads here later, rather than sooner and thinks that there will be more accessibility for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), as well as better availability for care in larger, more equipped areas that already had been hit with their own local cases.
Three individuals are currently being monitored in the county. Martha Lanman, CCPH administrator, emphasized that activities should be limited to only members of your household. This allows for the best chance to keep elderly and the general public safe.
Public Health services continue to be offered remotely for anyone in need, including applying for food stamps, WIC, Medicaid and other insurance.
Dayton School Superintendent Doug Johnson reported the District continues to give out meals to children 0-18 in the community. Teachers are continuing to engage children online through email, Google Classroom and sometimes with packets of learning materials. They are also assessing student needs and well-being beyond their educational focus.
When Gov. Jay Inslee announced to close schools for the remainder of the school year this week, Johnson said a system will be adopted to assess student’s progress, and seniors in good standing will be allowed to graduate. He also indicated a later graduation ceremony and other possible ways to celebrate this rite of passage.
The City of Dayton and Columbia County Commissioners reported that they are still recovering from the flood. Money has been slow to come, but is anticipated soon. Rep. Skyler Rude, R-16, asked the entities to keep the State informed about any holds on funding.
Port of Columbia Director Jennie Dickinson reported that there is money available through Project Timothy for some rental and utility assistance as well as food vouchers. Allocated funds of $25,000 from Blue Mountain Community Foundation were given to Project Timothy to help assist with those seeking help. Other funding is being sought for Project Timothy, and for the care being offered for children of first responders.
Blue Mountain Community Foundation also donated to the food bank. Martha Lanman reported that $300,000 was also approved through the Greater Columbia Accountable Community of Health Board for Second Harvest Food Bank across nine counties (Asotin, Garfield, Columbia, Whitman, Walla Walla, Franklin, Benton, Yakima and Kittitas) for more food and additional funding including for the Columbia County food bank.
Dayton Chamber of Commerce has cancelled Mule Mania but are unsure about Dayton Days. They are moving forward with planning on All Wheels Weekend which is traditionally held in June over Father’s Day Weekend.
Local businesses are being impacted and are reporting decreases in sales, according to Dickinson. Columbia Pulp recently closed due to supply chain issues. Grants are available for businesses who have been impacted by the guidelines and restrictions.