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Posted on: June 30, 2020

June 30 City of Eugene Community Update – COVID-19

We provided our last community update a few weeks ago, promising to email again when we had new information regarding the response to COVID-19. We feel that this week is an appropriate opportunity to touch base again following Governor Kate Brown’s recent decision to extend the face covering requirement statewide beginning July 1.

While we’ve been in Phase 2 for several weeks, the number of active cases in our community continues to grow. Our teams continue to work closely with health experts at Lane County Public health and the Oregon Health Authority.

Face coverings mandatory statewide

Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, July 1, face coverings are required statewide in indoor spaces that are open to the public, including businesses. Governor Brown shared that the decision came, in part, because of the significant jump in COVID-19 cases both in urban and rural counties.

“The upcoming July 4th holiday weekend is a critical point for Oregon in this pandemic, and we can all make a difference,” said Governor Brown.

The face covering requirement extends to businesses, including:

  • Grocery stores
  • Fitness-related organizations
  • Pharmacies
  • Public transit agencies and providers
  • Restaurants, bars, breweries, brewpubs, wineries, tasting room and distilleries
  • Retail stores, shopping centers and malls
  • Ride sharing services

“Face coverings that cover your nose and mouth play a critical role in reducing the spread of this disease,” said Brown. “If we all wear face coverings, practice six feet of physical distancing in public, wash our hands regularly, and stay home when we’re sick, then we can avoid the worst-case scenarios that are now playing out in other states.”

Learn more about face covering requirements.

Eugene awarded $2.8 million in CARES Act funding

While the financial impacts of COVID-19 won’t be known for years, the City recently received funding to help offset some of the costs incurred since the start of the pandemic response. 

The State of Oregon sent Eugene $2.83 million in CARES Act CRF funding. This payment was reimbursement for eligible costs related to medical expenses, public health costs, payroll for employees dedicated to COVID-19, and expenses to facilitate compliance with COVID-19 measures from March 1 to May 15th. 

The state is expected to issue guidance later in July for a second round of reimbursements. 

New Microsite Collaboration As Designated Temporary Shelter Sites Phase Out  

The City is delighted to announce a second Microsite is expected to be active by the end of the week. Microsites support our community’s reopening by balancing the varying needs for safety and recovery for the unhoused community.  

The newest Microsite will be on land provided by the Eugene Mission at no cost and managed by Community Supported Shelters. The first Microsite was established at Skinner City Farm. 

City staff continue to seek additional sites, exploring both public and private property partnerships. We will provide updates about additional sites as information becomes available.  

As part of the City’s emergency response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the City worked with non-profit social service providers to establish Designated Temporary Shelter Sites to provide emergency shelter options to unhoused community members in three community center parking lots. These shelter sites gave people experiencing homelessness a safe and sanitary place to live, while reducing the need for the residents to move around the community. Watch a video highlighting the positive impact of the Designated Temporary Shelter Sites. 

New microsites will continue to provide needed shelter, stability and support for vulnerable members of our community and demonstrate the collaborative efforts underway to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness. 

Kesey Square “Food Hall” reopened

As part of the City’s reopening and recovery efforts, the Downtown Ambassadors have re-opened Kesey Square to offer space for the public to sit, eat lunch and order food from downtown restaurants and food carts. The program started June 15, and tables and chairs will be out from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and sanitized regularly, spaced 6-feet apart. We encourage people to wear masks when physical distancing is not possible. The City looks forward to welcoming the community back to downtown!

More resources

See a list of Community Resources for physical and mental health, food, housing, businesses, employees, schools and children, as well as information in Spanish. Also learn how you can help.

Our partners have a significant amount of information available online. Please visit these resources for the most up to date information: 

Previous Community Update

City of Eugene Community Update – COVID-19 May 27

Posted on: May 27, 2020

May 27 City of Eugene Community Update – COVID-19

Respect. Patience. Thoughtfulness. Thank you for supporting local businesses as we all navigate reop

Good morning Eugene,

There has been slow and steady progress to safely reopen in the last two weeks. Since we entered Phase 1 of Governor Kate Brown’s reopening plan, local businesses are starting to reopen under new circumstances and community members are able to gather in small groups with physical distancing.

Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis said last week in a speech that working together has helped us get this far, and it will help us continue down a path of progress.

“Please understand that this is a team effort,” Vinis said. “We are all in this together and have a responsibility to one another.”

We are encouraged to see businesses open their closed doors with provisions in place for physical distancing. The return of childcare to our Rec centers and the offering of summer camps is a positive sign, too.  

As we return to public places we should be mindful of protocols in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19. We want to thank everyone for being safe over Memorial Day Weekend and also remind people that while businesses and restaurants are starting to open, we aren’t out of the woods yet and it’s only through constant vigilance that we can move toward Phase 2.

Local Businesses Update

An anecdote from a local business owner

Since the beginning of the pandemic the City and its partners have worked closely with local business owners. The following is just one example of what we’re hearing in the community about the challenges people and businesses are facing.

Falling Sky owner Rob Cohen reopened a part of his business in early May, but he and other Eugene brewpub and restaurant owners face a challenging future.

After being shut down for seven weeks, Cohen’s Falling Sky Delicatessen, 790 Blair Blvd., reopened on May 1 for takeout and delivery business only. Falling Sky Brewpub on Oak Alley remains closed, as does Falling Sky Pizzeria in the University of Oregon’s Erb Memorial Union.

Cohen says owning a business such as his during the COVID-19 pandemic is “perilous.”

“It’s like walking in slow motion, blindfolded, down a plank in a windstorm without knowing if there is anything on the other side,” he said. “Without a (COVID-19) vaccine very soon, the short-term outlook for brewpubs and restaurants like us seems very bleak.”

The March shutdown threw 49 Falling Sky employees out of work. Reopening the deli restored 17 jobs.

The state’s reopening guidelines for dine-in service require social distancing and other COVID-19 safety measures. But Cohen said he is not ready to offer that option for the following reasons: He worries about the risk of infection for staff and customers; his employees would have to enforce social distancing, which could be a problem with transients who often attempt to use the deli’s bathroom; and it’s unknown if there would be enough demand for dine-in service to cover the cost of added employees.

Cohen was able to reopen the deli with financial help from the U.S. Small Business Administration – a $10,000 grant and a Paycheck Protection Program loan – plus flexibility from vendors, landlords and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Falling Sky received the Paycheck Protection Program loan with help from Summit Bank, which has been “amazing to work with throughout all of this,” Cohen said. “It has reaffirmed my belief in local banking.”

We’re here to help local businesses

The City is exploring options to provide businesses with access and use of outdoor space surroundingThe City of Eugene has created a specialized team to help support local businesses as Lane County continues Phase 1 of the Governor’s Reopening Oregon plan. Learn about the many ways the City is supporting local businesses and how we can help.

For businesses that may need additional space to meet physical distancing requirements, this could include access and use of outdoor space surrounding their premises. For example, a restaurant can offer seating on the adjacent sidewalk. The City is actively working to streamline that process, while exploring options to convert on-street parking spaces to seating, an idea called a ‘streatery’.

Each situation is unique and comes with opportunities and challenges, which the City will be working through as we reopen together. Local businesses can email the team directly at bizhelp@eugene-or.gov.

Eugene Rec announces registration date for youth summer camps

We are looking forward to helping make your summer the best it can be. We are excited to announce Eugene Rec will be offering summer camps starting June 22. Summer Camp registration will begin at 9 a.m. June 8 and you can go to Rec’s online registration portal to set up an account, and registration will also be available over the phone or in person Amazon, Sheldon or Petersen Barn community centers. Look for more information coming your way by the end of May. We are hard at work planning for camp modifications to keep your kids safe and healthy including physical distancing, mask wearing and diligent sanitizing. Because these safety measures will include having smaller groups of campers, we appreciate your understanding that we expect enrollment capacity to be limited.

Childcare programs are also now running at Sheldon, Amazon and Petersen Barn community centers. Call 541-682-5312 for information and registration for child care.

Pools currently remain closed during Phase 1 of Lane County’s reopening. We are working on how we might safely begin swimming lessons and lap swimming at Amazon Pool during Phase 2. Sheldon Pool will remain closed, as current guidelines do not allow indoor pools to operate during Phase 2. Echo Hollow Pool will remain closed until renovations are complete later this year.

Facility rentals, fitness classes and other Rec programming will gradually begin to restart; stay tuned for more information. We plan for the limited and gradual reopening of all our community centers after the start of Phase 2 except for Campbell, which is still undergoing renovations.

We have missed recreating with you and are excited to begin welcoming you back! We will keep you posted on our reopening news on our website and through future emails.

When do we move into Phase 2?

After 21 days in Phase 1, counties continuing to meet the prerequisites MAY be able to enter Phase 2. Lane County’s ability to progress to Phase 2 relies on all of us working together and following all safety guidelines outlined for our gradual reopening. 

The County entered Phase 1 on May 15, so the earliest it could be allowed to move into Phase 2 would be June 5. Stay tuned for more information next week about the process.

Learn More About Reopening Oregon

Previous Community Update

To Wear Or Not To Wear A Mask?

To wear, or not to wear a mask, that is the question…and a burning one because without clear, unequivocal instructions we feel lost. Don’t you feel utterly confused when our commander in chief tells us to wear masks but refuses to follow his own lead?

As a surgeon, I spent half of my professional life wearing surgical masks. You get used to it pretty quickly. Surgical crews wear these masks to protect patients from all kind of bugs coming from our mouths with each uttered word, breath, cough, or sneeze. This situation is simple and straightforward. 

The current development, on the other hand, presents many more challenges and unknowns. Challenges that most of us, myself included, never experienced before. To whom should we listen? Medical professionals like Dr. Fauci or self-serving politicians? For me, the answer is obvious:medical  professionals. 

The medical professionals are finally in complete agreement. Everyone should wear a mask in public spaces and practice social distancing – there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it! 

Here’s the thing, when you have a full blown disease, the course of action is clear. Isolate yourself at home and go to a hospital if your condition deteriorates. However, the majority of people infected with COVID-19 have very mild, indistinct symptoms. What should they do?

Take the future king of Great Britain for example. Prince Charles strictly obeys the doctors orders. “Having recently gone through the process of contracting this coronavirus, luckily with relatively mild symptoms, I now find myself on the other side of the illness but still in no less a state of social distance and general isolation,” he said. 

Some people don’t experience any symptoms at all, and Typhoid Mary, the obstinate cook, immediately comes to mind. It is believed she had infected 51 people with typhoid fever (3 of whom died) because she refused to acknowledge she had the disease and didn’t cooperate with medical authorities. 

Mary became the first individual in the United States identified as an asymptomatic (silent) carrier of the disease in the early 20th century, and she was compulsorily quarantined for 16 years.

Since there is a dire shortage of COVID-19 tests in the United States, everyone should act as if they are silent carriers and take necessary precautions: social distancing, wearing a mask, and religiously washing hands. 

“CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water whenever possible because handwashing reduces the amounts of all types of germs and chemicals on hands. But if soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help you avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.”

The virus can linger on surfaces for up to:

72 hours – plastics 

48 hours – steel 

24 hours – cardboard  

Also, the virus can be detected in the air for up to 3 hours.

Granted, it is tough to follow all the above mentioned precautions, but we have no other choice if we want to stop the spread of the disease faster and avoid many unnecessary infections and deaths. Please, for the sake of your health, the health of your loved ones, and everyone in our community, always wear a mask when out in public.

Best,

Alex

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