Albany considers state of emergency

Albany considers state of emergency

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The Albany City Council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, March 18 to consider a local state of emergency declaration in regards to COVID-19. 

The declaration would direct necessary city funds to Albany's efforts to stem the spread of the virus and mitigate the impact on employees and services. It would also cancel all non-essential commission meetings and events.

On Thursday, the reported additional closures around the city and new procedures in city hall in response to COVID-19.

Both public library buildings are now closed to the public, a change from Wednesday and early Thursday when the city had opted to keep the buildings open but cancel all library activities. 

The community pool also saw its doors closed on Thursday after the city originally cancelled some of its programing but kept the building open. The pool will now be closed until March 30. 

"The situation surrounding COVID-19 changes rapidly," City Manager Peter Troedsson said in regards to the cancellation of the Albany Revitalization Area's advisory board meeting. 

On Monday, the City Council was briefed on the city's response and staff noted at that time, cancellations and changes in procedure could be expected. 

Currently, the city is at Level 2 in its emergency classifications regarding contagious illnesses. Level 1 is triggered when an illness enters the state. Level 2 is reached when that illness reaches surrounding communities. COVID-19 has at least 8 cases in Lebanon and two in Marion County. The city will reach Level 3 when a case is confirmed in Albany. 

On Monday, the city said it expected 40% of its staff to be impacted by the virus and said working remotely would become a reality. 

As of Thursday, city spokesperson Marilyn Smith said there weren't any employees working from home yet. 

Employees will alter their routine, however. According to the city, residents visiting city hall will notice additional hand sanitizer at all the entrances and employees will be wearing protective gloves. 

Troedsson said any closure of a public building follows careful evaluation to the impact of the community and potential risks. 

Mayor Sharon Konopa said the closures were part of the city's effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

"We are taking preventative measures to try and prevent further spread of the virus. We understand the impacts on all individuals and businesses and acknowledge people have different views towards the preventative measures taken," she said. "The elderly are the most vulnerable in overcoming this virus, so if you are capable of going out of your home and have a senior next door, please consider checking on them to see if they need any assistance."  

The fire and police department updated their response as well. All tours of the stations have been cancelled. The fire department will not take part in scheduled training outside of Albany for the time being. The Albany Police Department's volunteer program, cadet program, youth citizens' police academy, the BULB school program and ride-a-longs have been canceled as well. 

"I understand that these are very stressful times for all of us, but I would urge a calm and rational approach to the problems we’re facing," Troedsson said. "We’ll come together as a community and get through this."

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