County Public Health: A Key Partner Corona Virus Response
COVID-19 is now officially a worldwide pandemic and while this is not a time for panic, this is a time for awareness and appropriate action on the part of every level of government and from every citizen. An effective response requires leadership at the federal, state and local levels.
The number of confirmed cases in Oregon is rising steadily, though as of this writing none have yet been confirmed in Lincoln County. We need to be particularly aware because we have high levels of at-risk populations. That includes seniors, the uninsured, unsheltered people and the working poor who may not have paid sick time and have to show up to work to keep a roof over their head and food on their table. Depending on the extent and length of this outbreak, we could also see significant economic impacts.
As the number of cases rises, the impact on the nation’s hospitals could be overwhelming. That’s why we have to do everything we can, from cancelling mass gatherings to good personal hygiene to avoiding physical contact with others to slow the spread of this virus.
We have a capable, experienced team in place at our county’s Public Health Department. I know they will do everything they need to do to protect us. The other commissioners and I also understand our role in this. All county boards of commissioners are designated by state law to be the Local Public Health Authority. It means we can allocate emergency resources and exercise emergency powers if such steps become necessary.
Our board is also working with staff to develop personnel rules to deal with possible large numbers of employees having to miss work because of illness, potential exposure, or need to care for a loved one. The goal will be to ensure continuity of important operations, including our own system of health clinics that serve about 10 percent of the county’s total population, including many people at elevated medical risk.
I’ve been through multiple levels of Incident Command Training from FEMA, which further equips me to understand my role in helping to lead your county government though this challenge.
We will see our way through this, because we’re Lincoln County. Our communities always rise to the challenge, whether it’s flooding, fire, economic downturn or a virus that’s invisible to the eye, but carries significant consequences.
Lincoln County Commissioner