Ontario City Hall

This photo shows the Ontario City Hall.

ONTARIO — As the community responds to the phased reopening of Oregon and Idaho (since stay at home orders were first introduced in response to the novel coronavirus COVID-19) the first Citizens Coalition of Ontario’s COVID-19 Update went live on Friday night with a livestream broadcast on the City of Ontario’s Facebook page.

The informational event was organized by Citizens Coalition of Ontario’s Eddy Thiel and David Armstrong and Ontario City Councilor Freddy Rodriguez.

Moderating the event from the Ontario City Council chambers, Thiel, joined by Ontario City Manager Adam Brown, invited guest speakers Sarah Poe, Malheur County Health Department Director, Megan Gomeza, Behavioral Health Director from Valley Family Health and Marie Groberg, volunteer and co-organizer of the Mask Ontario Save Our City movement.

Brown was the first speaker to give an update presentation.

“The City of Ontario has been active since this started,” Brown said.

Explaining further he said that Ontario was taking precautionary measures early on.

The next speaker was Poe who was asked early on about the statistical data that is posted the Malheur County Health Department’s website in terms of positive cases of COVID-19 and when that gets updated.

“We wait to post until we have a lab report in our hands,” explained Poe.

She said that the plan is to have a monthly drive-thru testing site in Ontario. Poe also announced that there will be another drive-thru testing event scheduled for May 27 with details to follow.

There were three drive-up testing sites conducted in Malheur County already. The first one was at the Malheur County Fairgrounds in Ontario on April 29. The second one was held at Nyssa High School on May 12 and the third was at Vale’s Wadleigh Park on May 14.

Next to speak was Gomeza, from Valley Family Health Care. She described how intake of patients has changed since the onset of the pandemic. Gomeza mentioned that among some of those changes are allowing “parking lot visits” where much of the intake in done in the patient’s vehicle.

Gomeza also wanted to remind those participating in the forum and those watching that there are resources available on Valley Family Health Care’s website about how to talk to kids about COVID.

Last to speak was Groberg, volunteer and co-coordinator of Mask Ontario Save Our City, the community movement that has made masks free of charge for citizens of Ontario and beyond.

According to Groberg, the movement, made of up of volunteers, has sewn and given away over 3,000 masks to date.

Closing out the forum was Ontario City Councilor Freddy Rodriguez who said how important it is to have this information available to the community. He said that next week’s livestreamed forum will include a guest speaker to talk about COVID’s impact on census reporting.

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