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Communication from Commissioners Regarding Covid-19

Letter sent to County Commissioner:

Date: April 20,2020

Subject: Coronavirus and Public Health

Dear Commissioners,

All of us have been greatly impacted by “stay at home” orders and when it is safe we want stores and businesses to open up. But, we also have listened to Dr. Fauci infectious disease leader and professionals for guidance, and understand that this is a very contagious virus.

This public health pandemic should not be politicized and doesn’t have an urban and rural divide. As we know it spreads where people closely congregate and that includes long term care facilities/homes, rehabilitation centers, jails/prisons and businesses. Elderly, homeless and migrant workers are identified as being at particular risk.

Josephine County has a large number of elderly and high risk people and thus the need to continue with social distancing and protective measures. Soon migrant workers will be arriving in fairly large numbers to pick berries and fruit. Plans are needed so the crops can be picked and people can be safe.

I’m glad the number of positive cases, 19 + 1 Death, are low in Josephine County with 902 negative cases as of April 19, however with a county population of 86,000, the testing of less than1000 residents is a very low percentage.

The experts state testing, and contract tracing is needed on a larger scale and hopefully that can occur soon. County testing is limited and I think still restricted to someone with likely symptoms and a doctor’s order. Hopefully more tests would be available here.

It would help to know, how many public health and private staff are involved with the testing and tracing? Will testing be expanded?

How many current public health staff work in the Communicable and Preventable disease program?

Will or has Josephine County Public Health received additional funding for testing and the coronavirus disease?

Will Josephine County be allocating any general budget funds for public health and communicable disease in the upcoming budget?

Only when it is safe do we want restrictions lifted. A Plan based on specific criteria is needed.

ANSWER from Commissioner Lily Morgan

Thank you, Jean for your questions. We received guidelines from Governor Brown today on the plan for moving towards opening in phases. Josephine County has partnered with Allcare, Asante, Siskiyou Clinic and other county departments in providing a system wide response to our needs in Josephine County.

Michael Weber can answer the specific staffing questions, but so far, Allcare and the state of Oregon are covering the costs of testing / response.

The Governor is asking for expanding testing but we have not received those guidelines yet. The University of Oregon is due to have expanded testing next week that may help. Right now, we are meeting the need of tests locally.

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