County closes playgrounds, opens call center

  • Tue Mar 24th, 2020 4:00pm
  • News

The Grays Harbor Board of County Commissioners met in an emergency special meeting Tuesday morning to address coronavirus outbreak business.

The meeting was called Monday after Gov. Jay Inslee announced his stay-at-home order. Commissioner Vickie Raines encouraged residents to read the order, which she said would be available on the county’s website (www.co.grays-harbor.wa.us). The order includes supporting documents which state essential businesses that can remain open.

“It is quite lengthy, and it’s very detailed,” she said.

During the meeting, the commissioners decided to close county-owned playground equipment because cleaning them is not possible to deter the spread of the outbreak of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. This is in line with decisions other governments have made across the state.

“The playground equipment needs to be shut down but not the parks at this time,” Commissioner Randy Ross said. “People do need to practice social distancing (in the parks).”

The county currently has playgrounds at Vance Creek and the Fairgrounds surrounded with “do not enter” taping.

Information lines

Sheriff Rick Scott asked residents not to call 911 when seeking information about coronavirus or outbreak-related closures.

“Do not call the 911 center for closure and COVID-19 information,” Raines said. “It is a burden on that already taxed source. Utilize the information provided by the governor or the call center that we’ve established.”

County residents seeking information can call a information line to answer questions about COVID-19

Residents seeking coronavirus information from the county should call 360-964-1850 between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Information is available in both Spanish and English.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency and it can feel confusing and scary,” said Karolyn Holden, the county’s Public Health director. “Information is changing rapidly. We want residents to get questions answered and have access to resources they may need.”

The number will be staffed by non-medical personnel.

If you have specific medical questions or are having symptoms that you think are related to COVID-19, please contact your medical provider, a release from the county states.

Both Grays Harbor Hospitals have triage lines staffed by medical professionals. The Grays Harbor Community Hospital nursing triage line is 360-537-5100; Summit Pacific Medical Center’s nursing triage line is 360-346-2222.

The Washington Department of Health also has an information line for general questions about COVID-19 at 800-525-0127. This phone line is staffed from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, the release states.

Delegation of Authority

The commissioners voted unanimously to designate current incident commander Chief Leonard Johnson from Grays Harbor Fire District 2 as the person who can make urgent decisions if the commission is unable to meet.

This delegation will last until the end of the COVID-19 crisis. He is authorized to spend up to $300,000, a limit that was set in the emergency resolution passed March 16.

Other business

Mark Cox, the county’s director of community development, requested that the county close the county household hazardous waste facility until further notice. Retirements have led to a lack of staffing in order to keep the facility open. The commission voted unanimously to close the hazardous waste facility.

Beginning Thursday, all county employees will be screened upon entering county buildings. Employees are expected to show up to work no earlier than 8 a.m. to undergo the screening. Forestry building employees are expected to go first to be screened at the county administration building before reporting to work.

The screening involves a temperature check and questions about the health of people in the workers’ households. This screening already is being done at the County Courthouse and the Pearsall Building in Aberdeen.

Raines noted that hotel and rental industry workers had been deemed essential employees by the governor so hotels and rentals in the county could continue with business.

She also said there was a larger-than usual crowd attending the meeting, if virtually. She said about halfway through the meeting that 96 people were logged on to listen.

“I’m really pleased to have this many people,” Raines said. “I appreciate people’s patience and willingness to listen in.”