In a meeting this afternoon between the cities of Lincoln County and the Lincoln County Commissioners they extended the County emergency declaration to May 31st. The councilors, Mayors and County Commissioners first heard from Rebecca Austin County Health Director. She reported that Lincoln County has been doing an amazing job at flattening the curve but there needs to be a balance to keep the virus from spreading. She said the state would like to see more of an increase in testing and decrease in positive testing. Samaritan Hospital has a testing site open in Depoe Bay and is looking to open another site in Waldport by sometime next week.
She added that they are working with the state to expand criteria for testing to include essential workers. Right now you need to show symptoms and have a referral from your health care provider. Toledo city councilor Betty Kamikawa expressed concerns over those who are homeless are able to get tested. She said they are also working on their tracking programs. "Right now if someone tests positive they get a call from the county nurse who has them trace who they have been in contact with and those people are notified to quarantine for 14-days. We also need to look at how to provide help for those who are sick at home and need help."
Sarah Means from the Governor's Office reported that they are still waiting on more guidelines from the state to discuss a phased in plan for opening in counties around the state. She said they hope to have a more complete look at what the phased in plan will look like by May 4th. County Council Wayne Belmont explained that the Counties emergency declaration was only until May 8th and would need to be extended if that was what the other cities would like to see happen as well.
Commissioners Hunt and Hall said they were in favor of extending the emergency declaration. "The virus has put a tremendous burden on our local businesses" according to Commissioner Hunt. He said however that he would like to see the emergency declaration extended as right now only about 478 people in Lincoln County have been tested, which is only about 1% of the population in the county. He also pointed out that 25% of the counties population is over the age of 60, those most vulnerable to the virus. "This extension will give more adequate time to develop a plan for re-opening that will protect the counties population."
The Lincoln County Commissioners and representatives of the county’s cities reached majority agreement on extending the countywide prohibition on short term rentals due to COVID-19. The order covers hotels, motels, campgrounds, RV parks and vacation rentals.
The commissioners and several cities who had quorums of their councils present (Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Toledo and Yachats) agreed to an extension through May 31. Because the measure was enacted under the county’s emergency powers, the commissioners also agreed to extend the current declaration of emergency through May 31.
Concern was brought up about the need to re-open city and county parks but in a coordinated manner that won't put strain on any one government entity. The Waldport City council had met previous to the meeting and according to acting Mayor Woodruff said they only wanted to extend their emergency declaration through May 15th. The county and the city councilors will be meeting again in the next couple of weeks to further discuss a plan for re-opening of short term stays and for parks.