County declares emergency, calls emergency session

Lake County Commissioners issue an emergency deceleration on Monday, March 16.

With executive orders from the Governor’s Office about COVID-19 in effect, Lake County Commissioners officially declared a state of emergency on Monday, March 16, in an emergency session, which also included closing the courthouse.

While no one had yet tested positive in Lake County for COVID-19 at the time of the declaration, Commissioners felt that declaring a state of emergency was the best option as it frees cooperation between state, federal, county, and town governments; relaxes the procurement procedures if items need to be bought, and allows more timely action.

Executive orders already implemented at the time of the emergency declaration included closure of schools and the limitation of bars and restaurants.

The Lake District Hospital has begun a policy of screening people and limiting access to the hospital for the foreseeable future. At the time of publication there are two barricades in place, one preventing cars from reaching the facility, and the other is manned by someone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At the beginning of the week it was staff from the Bureau of Land Management, and is currently being rotated by staff from various federal agencies.

At the checkpoint people are initially screened, and assessed for the purpose of their visit. They must enter a triage area where medical personnel check for signs of COVID-19. Afterwards people are allowed in with an escort, or if showing potential signs of the virus, sent to the parking lot outside of the ER for further evaluation.

Judy Clarke, Lake County Public Health director, noted at a later session of the emergency meeting on Friday, March 20 that they are currently looking for more people to assist at the triage station outside of the hospital. People do not need medical experience, as they will be teamed with a nurse. Contact the HR Director Rebecca Farr at 541-947-2114 ext.230 if interested.

She also mentioned that if businesses, or people, have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) they wish to donate can bring the PPE to the Marius Building in between 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. People will need to call 541.947-6045 in advance for curbside pick up of the equipment.

Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Tague is leading the incident command team. At the Monday meeting he detailed how the declaration will help free resources from the state. Plus, it allows Lake County to request people from the state level to assist, though he noted that their availability can be consumed quickly.

At the Friday sessions of the emergency meeting, Tague noted that requests from the state for PPE equipment are getting bogged down, as many agencies across the state are requesting materials. He also stated the state might not have received anything from the federal government yet, which is sending out PPE equipment to the states. He noted they might be double-ordering from the state office of emergency management or the chief fire marshal. He believes there might have been some double ordering of PPE equipment.

Both Tague and Clarke stated that information boards, with general information about COVID-19, will be displayed at Dollar General, Safeway, and the Lake County Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, the Circuit Court is operating at a reduced workload, though it was noted things could change this week by new orders from the Chief Justice.

Watch coverage of the Lake County Commissioners on the Lake County Examiner’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

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