A volunteer who reportedly had contact with the county’s third confirmed coronavirus patient worked at the Longview Salvation Army for about 2.5 hours on Monday, the day authorities publicly announced the case, a Salvation Army spokeswoman said Wednesday.
The staff deep-cleaned the Salvation Army center on Tuesday and is continuing to distribute boxes of food on a drive-up and walk-up basis, said Lora Marini-Baker, regional spokeswoman for the Salvation Army.
She said the Salvation Army itself has not received confirmation from health officials that its volunteer had contact with a coronavirus patient, but it has read a TDN report based on an interview with Christine Schott, chair of the Salvation Army local advisory board.
“We have not seen verification of the person who has allegedly tested positive,” Marini-Baker said by phone Wednesday.
Health officials reported Monday that a woman in her 30s is the third confirmed COVID-19 case in Cowlitz County and that she was recovering at home. The Salvation Army volunteer came into contact with the woman, Schott told TDN.
At this point it is unclear when patient No. 3 was tested for the virus, how much contact the patient had with other members of the community or whether the volunteer knew when they came to work Monday that the person had tested positive.
Cowlitz County health officials have declined to provide any details of patients’ whereabouts and testing, citing patient privacy and that the public should assume the virus is everywhere.
Rainier City Hall tagged
RAINIER — Rainier City Hall was vandalized Tuesday night with the spray painted words “freedom of travel,” an apparent objection to restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, which include shuttering City Hall.
In a Facebook post, Mayor Jerry Cole said he was saddened by the act but the words will be removed Wednesday by the Public Works Department.
“I am a supporter of free speech, and I encourage it,” Cole said. “This is not a form of free speech. This is vandalism plain and simple.”
Cole said the vandalism “did nothing but slap the face of every Rainier resident doing their best to join in the fight of COVID -19.”
Cole reiterated best practices for stopping the spread of the virus, and encouraged people to check on elderly neighbors.
“We are all impacted by the current situation,” Cole said. “Don’t be a coward when sharing your frustrations, (and) don’t vandalize our historic City Hall.”
WSP reports 112 mph driver
Thinned-out highways have some motorists badly flouting speed limits, with one motorist recently clocked at 112 mph near Lexington, according to the Washington State Patrol.
WSP spokesman Will Finn said troopers have seen an increase in speeding in the last two weeks and asked the public to slow down.
“We’re talking over 100,” Finn said Tuesday. “We can attribute that probably to the reduction in traffic out there. … With the lack of vehicles on the roadway, there are some motorists that are taking some more chances with their speed.”
Troopers are not patrolling neighborhoods, conducting checkpoints or interrogating motorists about where they’re going or whether they’re essential employees, the WSP said. Workers at “essential” jobs are encouraged, but not required, to possess a letter or card identifying them or their employer as essential, according to the Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management.
“Troopers do not have any desire to make any arrests or take anyone to jail for violations of pandemic restrictions that have been ordered by the governor, and we continue to urge voluntary compliance,” Finn said.
RiverCities adjusts fares, service
To protect employees and riders from COVID-19, RiverCities Transit announced Wednesday that it won’t require riders to pay a fare or show a bus pass, effective immediately.
In addition, riders of the local bus service will get on and off through the rear door, whenever possible, to maintain distance from operators, according to a press release. The front door will be for riders who use mobility devices or need the assistance of the ADA ramp.
Beginning Monday until further notice, RiverCities will reduce bus routes to the Saturday schedule Monday through Friday to address significant drops in ridership. This schedule is available at www.rctransit.org.
Those unable to access essential services and jobs as a result of these reductions are encouraged to contact RCT at 360-442-5663 or email@example.com.
Organizers of the annual International Festival, which had been scheduled to take place June 13, have cancelled this year’s event due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is the area’s first major summer festival to cancel due to the disease.
Amtrak cuts trains
OLYMPIA — Due to severe drops in ridership, the Washington Department of Transportation is reducing service of Amtrak Cascades trains and is suspending food service.
Two daily round trips between Seattle and Portland are the only Cascades trains that will continue to operate in Washington. The Seattle-Portland evening trains 507 and 508 were suspended as of March 21, and beginning Thursday, March 26, trains 517 and 518 also will be suspended until further notice. The trains that will continue to operate between Portland and Seattle include trains 500, 501, 504, and 505.
View schedules for those trains at www.AmtrakCascades.com by clicking on the Buy Tickets button.
In addition, all Amtrak Cascades trains north of Seattle were suspended beginning March 17. Daily Cascades buses continue to offer service between Seattle, Everett, Mount Vernon and Bellingham. Amtrak long-distance trains continue to connect Seattle, Edmonds and Everett.
In Oregon, train service between Eugene and Portland is reduced to one daily round trip (trains 500 and 505). All other Amtrak Cascades trains in Oregon are suspended.
The Amtrak long-distance train, the Coast Starlight, will continue to connect Seattle, Portland, Eugene, and other cities in a daily round trip.
Amtrak is deep-cleaning trains and stations and wiping surfaces frequently, according to WSDOT. With reduced ridership, there is room to easily maintain personal distances.
Amtrak Cascades trains carry an average of 2,300 people per day and as many as 3,600 each day during peak periods.
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