Over the course of a week, large gatherings were banned, sports were effectively shut down and schools and businesses continue to close, courtesy of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
The City of Lincoln City declared a State of Emergency on Monday at a special City Council meeting, to allow them to more easily access resources if needed during this pandemic. City Emergency Management Coordinator Ken Murphy spoke at the meeting, as well as at the Lincoln City Rotary meeting last week about the virus.
His message remained unchanged from his norm: always be two-weeks prepared.
“I wish I had this kind of power… You know, I want people to always be two weeks ready but I don’t have this kind of affect on people,” Murphy said. “People are getting ready. I figure, if this doesn’t get too out of control, we will have most people two weeks ready for disasters.”
In addition to getting everyone in the City two weeks prepared for a quarantine or any other disaster, Murphy said he has been working with City officials to prepare for a possible outbreak in Lincoln County.
“We’re doing a lot,” Murphy said. “We started probably over a month ago and we knew this was coming, shame on people if they didn’t think it was going to happen. We are a mobile planet. There are generally 40 million flights a year of people going and coming.”
Murphy said one of the first things the City did was review their continuity ofoperations plan. This plan is a way for City officials to adjust to whatever situation, so that they can still conduct business.
“Whatever it may be, could be an earthquake, it could be a flood. In this case, it’s a pandemic, that could affect our city,” Murphy said. “One thing we’ve done is set up coop teams or remote teams, that will help us move to other facilities if City Hall was compromised.”
These teams of people will be able to work remotely doing jobs such as administration, finance and public works (water and wastewater). The City provided laptops for these remote operating teams and are able to teleconference if needed.
“We’ve also created an action decision matrix and it’s really, here are the things we’re going to do based on certain triggers,” Murphy said. “The next trigger is, what we do if we get a case in Lincoln County/Lincoln City? What are our actions? One of them is a decision point. Do we close public facilities?”
Murphy said they will work closely and confer with their public health partners to get guidance during the pandemic. As of Tuesday, March 17, City facilities have been left open as they continue to focus on increased frequency of cleaning.
“Generally I would say, at least at City Hall, people have been pretty darn good about getting the wipes out cleaning things and making sure their areas clean,” Murphy said. “We’re making a conscious effort to clean areas where the public can touch things, handrails, doorknobs, counters… it does help in doing that.”
For the most part, Murphy said Lincoln City will be following the lead of the Oregon Health Authority, who has been working around the clock to halt the spread of the virus.
“OHA has been developing messaging, working with the issues, working with medical facilities, doctors, everybody to make sure that we, as citizens and the public have information about what we might expect,” Murphy said. “I guarantee you, they’ve been working real hard on how this is going to unfold, and what we can and should do on any given day.”
Having gone through other outbreaks in the past, Murphy said these types of events should always be a teaching moment about preparedness.
“Disasters can happen anytime, anyplace and generally without warning. We’ve had a warning on this one. Think of all the things we’ve done to get ready for COVD-19. How ready would you be if we had an earthquake and we didn’t have weeks to prepare?” Murphy asked. “When properly pursued, preparedness is a way of life, it is not a sudden spectacular program.”