Klamath Falls City Council members on Thursday afternoon unanimously declared a state of emergency for the city.
City Manager Nathan Cherpeski said the city has been operating under a pandemic plan since mid-March, and is working to help those hit hardest economically.
“This just formalized the emergency, so really it clearly allows our emergency ordinance to go in place,” Cherpeski said.
Callers phoned in to the special meeting while council members approved $10,000 in funding for the Klamath-Lake Counties Food Bank. Council members also approved $25,000 to go toward supporting local restaurants impacted economically by the COVID-19 pandemic. City and county staff plan to coordinate on this effort.
Council members also formed a task force to keep a pulse of what’s happening related to COVID-19 and address what else the city may need to do, according to Cherpeski.
The city is also asking help from the public on how to use $100,000 in municipal funds to help amid current events.
“We’re also going to be soliciting ideas from the citizens, what do they think would be the most effective way to stimulate the local economy to help local businesses,” Cherpeski said. “So we’ll be putting out a link on social media and let people put their ideas out there. There’ll probably be a small prize for the best idea, the one that that council selects ultimately.”
Cherpeski said the city of Klamath Falls currently will not be shutting off utilities for failure to pay, but with the caveat the city still expects payment.
“We have to be able to continue to function,” Cherpeski said.
City of Klamath Falls has shifted how some of its staff are working, including with many working remotely.
“We’ve broken up our critical crews into different groups that are not together so that if our wastewater treatment operators, if some of them got sick, the others would not be, and that would continue to function,” Cherpeski said.
The city of Klamath Falls adopted a pandemic plan in 2009 to have one in place during H1N1.
“A lot of people had these plans,” Cherpeski said. “We had a lot of safety gear and masks when we adopted the plan.”
Cherpeski said the city delivered the more than 200 N95 masks they had on hand under that plan to Sky Lakes Medical Center to help with relief.
The city’s focus has been more on preparations for fires and earthquakes in recent years.
“It’s really the Public Health who has to lead this one and so we’re taking our direction from county health and the state,” Cherpeski said.