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Jackson County extends COVID-19 emergency declaration

Jackson County has extended its COVID-19 state of emergency into November, keeping the county lined up with Gov. Kate Brown’s move this week to extend Oregon’s state of emergency to Nov. 3.

In place since spring, Brown’s emergency declaration serves as the legal underpinning for a range of her executive actions, including a face covering mandate and health and safety rules for businesses that are meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Jackson County Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to extend the county’s emergency declaration into November.

But Commissioner Colleen Roberts emphasized the county’s state of emergency does not come with any restrictions on the activities of people or businesses.

“It is the state that’s doing that,” she said.

The county emergency declaration improves Jackson County’s ability to get reimbursed for its COVID-19-related expenses through sources like the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act passed by Congress.

Jackson County Administrator Danny Jordan projects the county will spend about $6.1 million on its COVID-19 response through the end of this year. He expects federal COVID-19 aid will cover those expenses.

The emergency declaration also allows the county more flexibility to quickly buy goods and services and shuffle employees to meet needs. Among other changes, some employees have shifted to staff the county’s Emergency Operations Center and to work on COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing.

Roberts said she doesn’t agree with or support the governor’s state of emergency declaration that has been in place for months. She said Jackson County has had only three COVID-19-related deaths and local hospitals have not been inundated with sick people.

Roberts said the state government should be in management mode regarding COVID-19, but the situation does not rise to the level of an emergency.

Commissioner Rick Dyer said the governor’s restrictions have harmed businesses and workers. That economic harm is part of why commissioners have to have their own emergency declaration to help the county, he said.

Dyer said extending the county’s emergency declaration to line up with the state’s declaration is a prudent move at this point.

Commissioner Bob Strosser said he also thinks the local decision makes sense.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Jackson County Administrator Danny Jordan projects the county will spend about $6.1 million on its COVID-19 response through the end of this year. He expects federal COVID-19 aid will cover those expenses.