Sides Line Up On Coronavirus Reporting
It began as a plea for Lane County to broaden the regulations for reporting COVID-19 cases in rural Lane County that sparked a debate between public health and personal privacy. Late Friday afternoon the Siuslaw news posted an article on social media about the potential of a Florence coronavirus case. The article said an anonymous source told the “News” that a reported rural Lane County case of COVID-19 was actually a Florence woman in her 50’s. the online article immediately received responses for the woman to self identify, so that they could avoid where she had been. A subsequent Open Letter to Lane County from Siuslaw News Editor Ned Hickson encouraged a discourse with the Lane County Commissioners who set the policy for reporting Lane County cases. In his letter Hickson said “Lane County’s refusal to share information could make the spread of the disease worse.” That post drew a response from County Commissioner Jay Bozievich who represents Western Lane County. In his response he states that every community should assume that they have cases of COVID-19 and act accordingly. Bozievich says the federal law in place that protects the privacy of individuals is extremely important in getting people to cooperate when a public health crisis arises. He believes that weakening that law would increase the dangers to the public, not minimize them as the Siuslaw News article suggests. Bozievich says the current use of the term “rural Lane County” in reporting cases protects the privacy of individuals in smaller communities. Over the weekend the responses to both sides of the issue continued to mount with posts for and against revealing specific communities. Also on Friday the West Lane Emergency Operations Group issued a media update that called for the community to continue to diligently stay home regardless of the areas where the positive tests are located. The release also encourages people to make limited grocery runs and instead purchase enough for a two week supply to avoid being in public.
Oregon Tops 1,000 for COVID-19 Cases
Over the weekend the Oregon Health Authority reported the climb of coronavirus cases in the state reached 1,069 and the number of tests administered was 20,624. The death toll also increased to 27 with Multnomah County bearing the brunt of those deaths at 7, Marion County reported 5 and Washington county is currently at 4. Lane County currently has 28 confirmed cases and neighboring Douglas County has 11. The three latest cases in Lane County were all from the Eugene/Springfield area. All three are female, two in their 30’s who are medically stable in their residences and the third is a woman in her 80’s who is currently hospitalized and in intensive care.
Lane community college moves forward with online learning. The traditional springtime classes have been cancelled, but online classes begin today. Interested students can also sign up for Online Information Sessions. The next available one is this Wednesday at 1pm. You can sign up at lanecc.edu.
Gas Prices Take a Dip
With travel at a virtual standstill gas prices are starting to come down a bit in Florence. Last week the average price of a gallon of gas dropped 11 cents to $2.47 a gallon. One attendant at VP Racing fuels says their business had been severely affected by the Stay Home Save Lives executive order. He said Sunday that the first 5 hours of his shift he only pumped about $50 dollars worth of gas. A number he said that under normal circumstances would be in the hundreds if not thousands.
OLCC has relaxed some of its regulations during the COVI-19 pandemic. One of the changes is that it will not currently enforce retailers to return beverage containers that have a 10 cent deposit refund. This is so that retailers can focus on their primary objective to serve the needs of the public, this has effectively shut down recycle centers or limiting them to specific hours of operation even though the OLCC says BottleDrop redemption centers and BottleDrop express sites will remain open.