The COVID-19 epidemic we are facing here in Central Oregon and around the world is a rapidly evolving situation. As of one week ago, I was planning to draft a blog post sharing the St. Patrick’s Day events happening in the area, beginning research on the upcoming Easter festivities, and I was definitely still planning on our Spring Break trip to Arizona. As a matter of fact, just five days ago I posted about a new restaurant opening and encouraged our readers to attend a crowded Grand Opening event over the weekend. Now I find myself sitting here contemplating how I can use this platform to serve as a resource for the Central Oregon Community who is starting to quickly and greatly become impacted by the pandemic.
The magnitude of this situation is quickly sinking in. We’ve seen what is happening on the other side of the world and it has felt so distant and far away from our safe Bend community, but that is rapidly changing—we’ve adjusted our mindsets, bought out all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer, and even our CHILDREN are trying to grasp the enormity of the situation. When Disney announced they would shut down the theme parks last week, that seemed to be a monumental step to help slow the spread, and while it was important, so much more needs to be done on a smaller scale to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Central Oregon.
One of my teammates here at Hello Bend Oregon is currently studying abroad in Madrid. On Friday morning, he sent me the following text when I asked him if he was coming home. This will give you an idea of how quickly this virus can spread.
“My school recommends we go home. Everything is closing and cases have tripled in 3 days. Tuesday we had 496 cases, Wednesday 930, Thursday morning 1,800 and Thursday night 3,000 and today (Friday-3/13/2020) 4,209.”
Little did we know at the time, but Spain would soon institute a nationwide 15-day lock down monitored by police with the risk of a hefty fine. Luckily, he was able to leave just minutes before the airport closed. His plan is to self-quarantine as per the guidelines at this time.
As airlines, businesses, schools, and restaurants/bars are quickly implementing steps (some enforced by state governors) to minimize the spread of COVID-19, I thought it would be helpful to start to identify some ways we can focus on the prevention of the spread of the virus starting with us at home.
First, it’s important to look at how the virus spreads and raise awareness within our communities. People that contract the virus can have it for up to two weeks BEFORE symptoms show and can UNKNOWINGLY spread it during that time. They are carriers EVEN if they do not show symptoms. This is why it is so imperative that we ALL practice good hygiene, reduce unnecessary exposures, and practice “Social Distancing” (see below for description). The current guidelines on self-quarantine state that it should last two weeks to ensure complete protection from transmission. The fact that this virus is spread without the carrier being symptomatic AND is HIGHLY contagious, is why the CDC recommends keeping a 6 FEET distance between you and those you work with, also referred to as “Social Distancing”. Below is an update from the Oregon Health Authority published on March 17, 2020.
Ultimately, most people reading this will not be in the “high risk” group. But the fact of the matter is, if you (a healthy, non-risk person) go out and are exposed, everyone you come in contact with after the exposure will BE EXPOSED, and THEY MAY BE HIGH RISK. So effectively, by choosing to practice all the recommended precautions, you are PROTECTING others.
What about the kids? Thankfully, children are TYPICALLY not as affected and do not show symptoms. HOWEVER (and this is important) they CAN be carriers and can transmit the virus to their families without any detection or indication that the child has it. That’s a main reason why shutting down the schools was so critical in preventing the spread. With the school closures here in Oregon extended until April 28, parents may be tempted to put together playdates during the “self isolation” period. Below is an article that explains why you should refrain from physically socializing with people outside of your immediate family, as tempting as it may be.
We NEED to help save our elderly and vulnerable population. Oregon hospitals have one of the lowest beds per person ratios in the USA. We cannot afford to have this disease spike. The following link is an article on the overwhelmed medical system in Italy. It can give you a picture of what can happen in our area. It is critical to keep the number of ill patients lower than the number of hospital beds available for treatment to prevent overloading our health care system.
So, what happens next? The shut down and operating restrictions for Central Oregon Businesses will definitely impact our local economy, and the school closures are creating chaos for parents searching for emergency childcare or forced to stay home from work with their children. Additionally, many children will be impacted by hunger during this time as school lunches are often their only stable food source. Many questions arise: How do we keep up with kid’s education? What activities can we provide for them to engage them? How are we going to support our local businesses and get them through this?
We are working hard to update the Facebook mom’s group: “Hello Bend Oregon Moms” with resources for kiddos and families during this time, so be sure to join our group to contribute and access resources. We are currently working on a blog post to share all the resources as well. Be sure to Subscribe to the blog (on the right —> ) if you would like updates delivered to your inbox.
Here are ways you can support your local businesses through this time:
- Buy a gift card (for your use later, birthday gifts, Christmas gifts)
- Order take out from your favorite Bend restaurants
- Pay for services you cancel during this time (pay for all/ part/ or tip)
- Give them a shoutout on social media—tell everyone why you love them/their product, and spread the word!
- Leave them a positive review on Google/Yelp/Facebook, etc.
Follow along on Instagram this week as we highlight a local business per day starting tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17! Email Brenda@HelloBendOR.com for your local business to be featured or if you have a resource you would like to share with the Hello Bend Oregon Community and Mom’s group!
I would like to thank my friend, fellow Mom, and Bend resident ~ Libby Wilson ~ for her input in assisting me with this COVID-19 in Central Oregon article.