It’s business as usual, almost, in Seaside, officials said at Monday’s City Council meeting, as cities throughout the nation struggle to contain potential outbreaks of COVID-19, a novel coronavirus.
Visitors are still coming, Seaside Chamber of Commerce CEO Brian Owen said. “I’ve talked to almost all of our hotels, and we are not seeing any drop off or cancellation in bookings,” Owen said.
Seaside Civic and Convention Center General Manager Russ Vandenberg said he has not seen cancellations as a result of coronavirus fears.
This week, the center hosts the Conservative Baptists Northwest Annual Enrichment Conference, the Clatsop County Job and Career Fair and the fundraiser “Sip and Savor.”
“I’ve sent out a message to all of our clients who are booked within the next four months, with links to information from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Clatsop County Health Department updating the status of current rate of infection in this area,” Vandenberg said. “This area has none at this time.”
Convention Center staff are taking precautionary measures by sanitizing all surfaces, including handrails, restrooms, countertops. “We’ve put hand sanitizers in our public spaces, as well as signage in our restrooms, just as a reminder to practice washing your hands and making sure you’re greeting others in a responsible manner — elbow bump or fist bump.”
Handshakes are discouraged.
Without a city health department, officials continue to rely on the county for guidance, City Manager Mark Winstanley said. “We’ve looked to the county to provide us with guidance on those issues. That allows us to have the same message. We have five cities in the county, and we want to make sure the message is consistent among all the cities.”
Seaside Fire Chief Joey Daniels, who also serves as the county fire chief, said the department has decontamination kits and maintains communication with the care facility at Providence Seaside Hospital.
“We’re following the Oregon health department, the county health agencies, and we’re monitoring the state fire marshal’s office,” Daniels said. “We’re as ready as we can be.”
Consistency is key, he said. “We don’t want our fire department to do one thing and our police department doing one thing. We’re trying to get out one message from the city.”
Advice continues to stress hand-washing, staying home if sick and covering coughs and sneezes, he said.
Police Chief Dave Ham said Seaside’s spring break period is expected to be similar as in years past, with officers scheduled for overtime shifts as needed.
“We’re not getting information we’re going to see anything different than we have in the past,” Ham said. “If the weather pattern holds we might be busy.”
Gearhart monitors situation
Gearhart Fire Chief Bill Eddy and Captain Josh Como participated in a webinar call with the Oregon Health Authority about COVID-19, City Administrator Chad Sweet said Thursday, March 5.
The Gearhart Volunteer Fire Department has the essential equipment necessary to respond to calls that involve flu-like symptoms, Sweet said. “We’ve posted procedures at the station and held briefings for the first responders.”
Eddy participated in an Oregon Health Authority survey, asking preparedness questions and inquiring about equipment needs the departments may have.
Since then, they’ve been in contact with the Clatsop Fire Defense Board and the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office exchanging information and procedures, he said.
Mayor Matt Brown opened the March City Council meeting with an update and ways to try to prevent the illness from spreading.
“I have been in touch with the other local mayors in the area and we are monitoring the situation and keeping each other informed,” Brown said. “The county public health staff is actively working with Centers for Disease Control, Oregon Health Authority and other local stakeholders and hospitals to prepare for a possible outbreak in our area.”