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Chamber of Commerce wants to hear COVID-19 impacts

The Chamber of Medford & Jackson County wants local businesses to tell the organization how the COVID-19 pandemic has caused them economic hardship.

The chamber plans to gather the stories and submit them to Gov. Kate Brown’s office.

In order to meet the threshold for federal small business assistance, Oregon businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic need to come forward and tell their stories, the chamber said in a plea for information issued Friday.

Business can email their stories and examples of economic hardship to lydia@medfordchamber.com.

Brown has banned gatherings of 250 people or more statewide, triggering a wave of cancellations of concerts, festivals, sports events, fundraisers, church services, public meetings and other events.

The ban doesn’t apply to stores.

However, public health officials are advising the elderly, people with serious health conditions and those with compromised immune systems to avoid crowded public spaces.

Brown also called for a statewide closure of public schools through March 31.

The ban has already prompted the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, one of Southern Oregon’s largest tourist attractions, to cancel plays through April 8.

Meanwhile, some companies have seen a jump in business.

Nationwide, some Costco stores have placed purchasing limits on items such as toilet paper, disinfectant wipes and rice to stop customers from hoarding them.

In addition to collecting stories about the local economic impact of COVID-19, the chamber has created a resource page on its website with coronavirus information and business practice guidelines to deal with the virus.

The guidelines from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives say sick employees should stay home and working employees should be encouraged to cover their coughs and wash their hands frequently. Regularly clean commonly touched surfaces.

Form a team to make assessment, preparation, communication and response plans. The team should tackle issues such as whether to provide child care for employees whose kids are out of school, equipping workers to do their jobs remotely and allowing flexible schedules.

Assess your supply chain and identify potential risks that could disrupt your business’s productivity.

Consider whether business travel is necessary and update sick leave policies so they are flexible and consistent with guidance from public health officials.

Share best practices with other local businesses and companies in your supply chain to improve the community response to the outbreak.

For more information about coping with the outbreak, see medfordchamber.com.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has canceled plays through April 8. The Chamber of Medford & Jackson County is collecting stories on the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on local businesses and nonprofit groups. Photo by Kim Budd.