By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Yamhill County Commissioners issue emergency declaration

[Updated 3/20/20]

One day after declining to declare a state of emergency, Yamhill County Commissioners met a second time in emergency session, and this time approved the declaration on a split vote.

Commissioner Mary Starrett cast the opposing vote on Tuesday.

“We have one confirmed case, so I’m still of the same mind, that I feel it’s a bit premature,” Starrett said. “I don’t see anything materially different from yesterday.”
On Wednesday, a second case in the county was announced, followed by a third on Thursday morning. The state and several cities in the county have already declared states of emergency, and several county offices have now closed their lobbies to the public.

The emergency declaration makes the county eligible for additional state and federal resources, in addition to decreasing requirements for new contracts. Health and Human Services director Lindsey Manfrin told the commissioners she needs the flexibility to move quickly, as circumstances change.

“If this needed to be passed in order for us to be able to access or take advantage of the [Small Business Association’s] economic impact disaster one program, then I would be more inclined to vote for it, because we’re looking at people who are facing literally losing everything, no job, no money, I mean, this is serious, and it’s now, and it’s happening,” Starrett said.

However, she said, the county would be eligible for the program under the state declaration.

“So, with that, we can still be involved with that for our businesses, but at this point, I don’t feel entirely comfortable approving this. But I understand why you do,” she told her colleagues.

Commissioner Rick Olson, who voted against the declaration on Monday, changed his mind on Tuesday. He said he had heard from numerous members of the public about the issue. In addition, he said, he found Manfrin’s concerns compelling.

McMinnville City Councilor Sal Peralta announced on Facebook that he had asked the county to place a moratorium on processing evictions, while the crisis lasts.

County Administrator Ken Huffer told commissioners Tuesday that he had called the second special session because he wasn’t sure they understood the challenges the county Public Health department faced.

On Tuesday, Manfrin again stressed her department is working around the clock.

“The situation is just changing, not just day by day, sometimes not even hour by hour, but literally, quite frankly, moment by moment. Just given the pace of this, I think that requires some urgency on this tact,” Manfrin said.

“I recognize that in this moment in time we have one confirmed case, but I think that the piece that is missing from that picture is that we have many tests pending. We have many people under monitoring. We have many people that we are having to make contact with to assure that they are safe, healthy and provided medical guidance.”

Manfrin said the department has “already ceased many of our day to day public health operations, and in addition to reallocating staff at Public Health, I believe there’s a real potential that we will likely have to reallocate staff from HHS as a whole as well.”

“I am confident that we are going to need to bring in our medical reserve corps, our CERT volunteers and potentially do some temporary staff hiring if we’re not able to redistribute all of our work,” she said.

Manfrin has received numerous requests for information about the Yamhill County cases, both from the News-Register and the public, but has said she will not release any details, in part because the county is so small that she doesn’t want to risk inadvertently identifying someone.

On Wednesday, Gov. Kate Brown issued new executive orders, directing all Oregon hospitals, outpatient clinics, and health care providers, including veterinarians and dentists, to cease all non-emergency procedures. Brown said the order was to preserve equipment such as surgical masks, gowns and gloves for health care workers treating COVID-19 patients.

“It is critical that we preserve every piece of personal protective equipment we have in Oregon so that our health care workers can keep themselves safe while treating COVID-19 patients,” Brown said.

“If we do not take immediate action, the surge in demand in our hospitals for masks, gowns, and gloves will quickly outstrip the limited supplies they have available. We cannot let that happen.”

“I want to thank the health care providers––including dentists, veterinarians, and others––who have already preserved and donated their critical supplies.”

Comments

Flicka

Its about time. They wasted four hours of precious time (and money) yesterday debating something that was a no-brainer. I thought Mary Starrett was the liaison to H&HS. Shouldn't she listen to her department head? Why does Lindsey Manfrin have to say that the situation is critical two days in a row before some action is taken?

Raven

This is a link to County Chair Casey's Kulla video explaining what the county is doing for the protection of our community. It is in both English and Spanish:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rmGoq3zLjU&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR0SaxkogXH6oAr1S5TUF7xWngm3W0wAHgANRcLOSixKmkWS1H_2u3P_Llg

David S. Wall

Starrett votes to place “bars and marijuana processing plants in neighborhoods” but refuses to “vote” for declaring a state of emergency concerning corona-virus.

Maybe Starrett has found a panacea for corona-virus -get drunk and get high and the corona-virus will pass you by.

Information concerning the COVID-19 is seriously and inappropriately lacking from Yamhill County Officials.

There is one confirmed case of corona-virus in Newberg. The patient is on a ventilator in an Intensive Care Unit. The remaining family members have been visited by Center for Disease Control personnel and are quarantined in their residence.

There is an “alleged case of corona-virus” in Newberg reported by reliable sources.

David S. Wall