MEDFORD, Ore. — Josephine County has joined neighboring Jackson County in declaring a state of emergency as a precaution due to the coronavirus, the Commissioners announced on Thursday.
The vote passed 2-0 with Commissioner Dan DeYoung not present.
Jackson County Public Health officials hold a press conference after two local residents test positive for COVID-19.
“We do not take the step of declaring an emergency lightly,” said Commissioner Darin Fowler, chair of the Board of County Commissioners. “Doing so affords our emergency services manager and local public health director greater ability to respond to COVID-19. We appreciate everything that is being done to keep everyone in our community safe.”
While there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Josephine County, public health officials have consistently said that the disease is likely either already present or soon will be. 88 cases of COVID-19 were reported in the state by Thursday morning, with 10,442 cases confirmed nationwide.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners announced their declaration of a state of emergency in the county earlier in the day "in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, prevent the overwhelming of health care providers, and otherwise minimize the risk to public health."
The state of emergency in Jackson County is effective March 19th and will expire on May 31st, unless rescinded or extended further.
“The Jackson County Board of Commissioners have shown leadership and taken an important step to ensure we are ready for whatever comes before us,” said County administrator Danny Jordan. “This is not designed to cause any panic for the citizens of Jackson County. It is part of the process in preparing.”
The City of Medford similarly declared a local state of emergency on Monday.
The state of emergency authorizes Jackson County to perform several actions, including the following:
- Emergency procurement of goods and services.
- Entering into mutual aid agreements between the County and cities within the County or neighboring counties.
- Enforcing emergency measures to protect the public.
- Modifying relevant personnel leave, personnel processes or policies, and workplace requirements, assignments, or designations of County employees.
- Requesting assistance and potential reimbursements from the State of Oregon and any appropriate Federal agency for response and recovery.
All rules and orders have "the full force and effect of law" during a declared state of emergency.
“The Board of Commissioners is committed to following the steps needed to keep the people of Jackson County safe,” said Jackson County board chair Colleen Roberts. “We do not know what is ahead but we are in this together. We all need to follow the steps that create a community with a desire to have the least people possible contract the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).”
As of Thursday morning, Jackson County still had only two confirmed cases of COVID-19, which public health officials said were travel-related exposures. Both people were self-quarantining at home and reportedly had not been hospitalized.