The Baker County Commission on Wednesday approved a local emergency declaration due to the coronavirus.

“This is putting us in a really preparedness state,” Commissioner Mark Bennett said. “We don’t have any (confirmed cases of the virus) we don’t know of any, but we’re trying to make sure we’ve got everything ready to go.”

In addition to the emergency declaration, commissioners, who normally meet twice a month, decided to have meetings every Wednesday for the next two months.

Bennett proposed that the new meetings be set aside for updates on coronavirus and actions related to it if necessary.

Commissioners also approved speaking with the Blue Mountain Translator District about televising meetings to lessen the need for people to go to the Courthouse.

“Blue Mountain Translator District has offered to televise our sessions at no cost to the county,” Bennett said.

The emergency declaration reads: “This prolonged event and the related actions by the State of Oregon and the federal government has compounded issues, creating shortages in medical supplies and household goods, while severely impacting Baker County’s businesses and overall economy.”

In the declaration, Baker County requests the following:

• Fiscal and information resources be made available to support businesses as they experience closure orders, severely reduced visitors, limited supplies, disrupted supply chains and employee shortages/restrictions

• Resources be made available to assist impacted special districts, such as school districts that are forced to change logistics to provide free and reduced meals to youth in our communities.

• Testing kits are made available and prioritized for first responders if they are exposed to COVID-19 to determine if they will need to be quarantined or able to keep providing essential emergency services. Responders for emergency services are limited in the best of times, and illness among the responder community has the potential to quickly disrupt essential community services provided to the residents and visitors of Baker County, as well as the traveling public along I-84.

• Periodically review the rules and regulations of the supply chain to determine if any restrictions need to be temporarily lifted or modified to aid in the restocking of essential goods and supplies, such as truck driver hours.

Commissioners welcome citizens to send emails or letters to Heidi Martin, the board of commissioners executive assistant, at hmartin@bakercounty.org or 1995 Third St., Baker City, OR 97814.

In other business Wednesday, commissioners directed the county’s attorney to move ahead with an effort to declare a road in the Connor Creek area, near Lookout Mountain in eastern Baker County, a public right-of-way.

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