CENTRAL POINT, OREGON — In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center, alongside partners in the Rogue Valley, is working hard to ensure that members of the homeless community residing on the Bear Creek Greenway are cared for.
Members of this community are extremely vulnerable in regards to COVID-19 and many have underlying medical conditions. Additionally, many of the service providers that traditionally care for this vulnerable population have shut down to keep their employees safe and to comply with the Governor’s Order, or are overwhelmed. As such, and per CDC recommendations, the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center, along with a long list of partners, is coordinating efforts to provide food and basic sanitation services to members of this community.
Portable toilets and hand washing stations were delivered to the greenway this week to immediately begin providing sanitation services. In addition, starting this Friday sack meals will be delivered 7 days per week by driving along the pathway to residents, as opposed to gathering people in one large setting.
Flyers were also distributed yesterday to the Greenway homeless population notifying them of COVID-19 symptoms and resources, and informing them about the upcoming food delivery program.
“The goal is simple; to keep populations residing where they are currently at and to prevent large group settings, where food delivery has typically happened in the past,” says Steve Lambert with the Jackson County EOC.
“Group settings strongly increase the chance of COVID-19 spread. If it were to enter this population, it would likely spread quickly and devastate the community,” stated Tanya Phillips with Jackson County Public Health. Law enforcement agencies have suspended all “sweep” operations during this crisis to eliminate displacement of this vulnerable community, according to Sheriff Nate Sickler.
Contributing partners include ACCESS Food which has offered a truck and driver 7 days per week to deliver food, to be accompanied by a Sheriff deputy or members of the Medford Police Livability Team. Mercy Flights has offered to provide EMT services alongside food delivery three days per week for basic medical evaluations of residents, should they feel like they are developing COVID-19 symptoms.
Other community partners who have donated resources to the program along with the $5,000 of county funds are the City of Medford: $5,000; City of Ashland: $1,500; City of Talent: $300; City of Central Point: $300; United Way: $1,000; Jackson County Parks & Sheriff’s Office: staff for daily deliveries and trash pickup. Grants requests have also been submitted to Jackson Care Connect, AllCare Health, and the Oregon Community Foundation.
Food will be produced at the Jackson County Jail by the current contractor providing services for jail inmates.
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