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Here's what governor's order means for you

Here's what governor's order means for you

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Gov. Jay Inelee's “Stay Home — Stay Healthy Order” takes effect at midnight tonight.

This is what it means for our community, based on a press release from Cowlitz County:

The order is effective throughout Washington state and prohibits all people from leaving their homes or participating in social, spiritual and recreational gatherings of any kind regardless of the number of participants, and all non-essential businesses in Washington state from conducting business.

All non-essential businesses in Washington state shall cease operations, except for performing basic minimum operations. All essential businesses are encouraged to remain open and maintain operations, but must establish and implement social distancing. This is a critical intervention effort, on our part, to help notify our citizens to keep them safe in order to reduce harm from the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

The new normal (for now)

What does this mean to Cowlitz County residents? Washington citizens should not leave their homes except for essential activities. Some examples of essential activities are: caring for elderly, minors, people with disabilities or others who are vulnerable. You can seek medical care, pick up medication, make needed purchases of supplies to work from home, or get food for your family. Some of the types of essential businesses that will remain open are: grocery stores, gas stations, health care facilities, pharmacies, restaurants for pick up or take-out meals, banks or supply stores. There are no checkpoints planned to ensure compliance.

Health care professionals and first responders are providing essential services. Essential state and local government functions are open in limited capacities. Utility services are continuing to provide garbage, water, sewer and electricity services. These providers will continue to work with citizens to maintain services and assist with payment options.

While this situation poses some unknowns, be assured that all essential food and supplies will continue across our roadways, that people will be able to travel to get essential needs like food and medical help, and that there are no current needs or plans to close our borders with other states. It bears repeating — there is no need to overstock on groceries and supplies. Be a good neighbor — remember that if we all shop as we normally would, there is plenty for everyone.

Business/commerce

There is currently no plan to require businesses to register or apply for any permits, however businesses need to demonstrate their “essential” status in order to remain open. The federal government identifies Critical (Essential) Infrastructures Sectors at https://www.cisa.gov/critical-infrastructure-sectors. The sectors include: Energy, Chemical, Commercial Facilities, Communications, Critical Manufacturing, Dams, Energy Services, Financial Services, Food and Agriculture, Government Facilities, Health Care/Public Health, Information Technologies, Nuclear Reactors/Materials/Waste, Defense Industrial Base, Transportation Systems, and Water/Waste Water/Utilities.

It is recommended for these businesses to provide their employees with a signed letter (on letterhead) that states their employment status and the essential function of the business. Business issued ID cards would also be helpful for employees to have in their possession, though not required. Employees of essential businesses can still go to work. Every effort should be made to maintain social distancing of 6 feet at work. If you have concerns about a business staying open in conflict with the Governor’s “Stay Home — Stay Healthy” Order you can visit www.co.cowlitz.wa.us to fill out a form or call 1-888-230-4970 for more information.

Enforcement

Law enforcement’s primary role is to help educate people about how to comply with orders to not gather together, to stay at home, and other restrictions. Law enforcement is not being asked to detain, arrest, ticket or establish checkpoints for compliance. The “Stay at Home” order is like other laws in that they work because people agree with the rationale and see it as a legitimate and sensible way to keep people safe. Our communities have shown they understand the severity of the situation and are doing all they can already to keep themselves, their families and neighbors safe and healthy.

The Cowlitz Association of Sheriff and Police Chiefs (CASPC) fully supports this mission and is committed to ensuring the safety of its communities. 

#InThisTogether

Stay home if you can. Use common sense. Think how your actions can put others at risk. We want to encourage you to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy by staying home. Don’t forget to check on elderly family members and neighbors — just adhere to social distancing. You can still go outside and run, walk, hike or ride your bike as long as you are maintaining the required social distancing of 6 feet from individuals. You can walk your dog, walk alone or with someone you live with or even another person as long as they maintain necessary space. Parks in Cowlitz County will remain open to allow residents open spaces to enjoy the outdoors, fresh air and sunshine. Play structures at parks will be closed.

Remember to only “Spread the Facts” and to “Stay Home — Stay Healthy.”

For general Cowlitz County COVID-19 Information you can call 1-888-683-8676. For question, please email imt.pio@co.cowlitz.wa.us.

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