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Jackson County and partners deliver food and sanitation to the Greenway homeless population

County officials say they have stepped in as other community service providers have been forced to shut down due to coronavirus.

Posted: Mar 25, 2020 4:50 PM
Updated: Mar 25, 2020 5:02 PM

CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — Jackson County says that its partnered with other local groups and governments to make sure the homeless community along the Bear Creek Greenway continues to get food and proper sanitation during the coronavirus outbreak.

"Members of this community are extremely vulnerable in regards to COVID-19 and many have underlying medical conditions," the Jackson County Emergency Operation Center said. "Additionally, many of the service providers that traditionally care for this vulnerable population have shut down to keep their employees safe and to comply with the Governor’s Order, or are overwhelmed."

Guided by CDC recommendations, the Emergency Operations Center has joined with other partners to bring food and basic sanitation to the homeless.

This week, workers brought portable toilets and handwashing stations to the Greenway. Starting Friday, sack meals will be delivered everyday to people along the path "as opposed to gathering people in one large setting."

“The goal is simple; to keep populations residing where they are currently at and to prevent large group settings, where food delivery has typically happened in the past,” said Steve Lambert with the Jackson County EOC.

RELATED: Medford gives $35k to local service organizations during coronavirus outbreak

On Tuesday the County passed out fliers to the homeless with information about COVID-19 symptoms and resources, and telling them about the upcoming food deliveries.

“Group settings strongly increase the chance of COVID-19 spread. If it were to enter this population, it would likely spread quickly and devastate the community,” said Tanya Phillips with Jackson County Public Health.

Law enforcement agencies have also agreed to suspend all "sweep" operations along the Greenway during the current state of emergency, according to Jackson County Sheriff Nate Sickler.

Access contributed a truck and driver to the program for food deliveries, which will be accompanied by a deputy or members of the Medford Police Livability Team. Meanwhile, Mercy Flights has volunteered EMT services alongside the food deliveries three says per week to evaluate the homeless for any COVID-19 symptoms.

The food itself is being produced at the Jackson County Jail by the contractor that currently feeds inmates.

In addition to $5,000 of County funds, the City of Medford contributed $5,000, plus $1,500 from the City of Ashland, $300 from the City of Talent, $300 from the City of Central Point, and $1,000 from the United Way. Jackson County Parks & Sheriff’s Office have volunteered staff for the daily deliveries and trash pickup.

Grants requests have also been submitted to Jackson Care Connect, AllCare Health, and the Oregon Community Foundation, according to the County.

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