The City of Chehalis declared an emergency relating to the COVID-19 outbreak at its Monday afternoon city council meeting at which three council members attended telephonically.

As a part of the emergency declaration, all utility bill due dates have been extended by 30 days. The credit card processing system that was authorized by the Chehalis City Council late last year is now up and running and utility bills can be paid online

“Anything that was due on March 20 is now due on April 20 and anything due on April 20 is now due on May 20. That will give people an opportunity to figure out what their finances are. … We strongly encourage people to use other options to pay their bill other than coming into city hall,” said Chehalis City Manager Jill Anderson.

Andy Caldwell, deputy director of the Lewis County Department of Emergency Management,  addressed the council and gave an update regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in Lewis County.

Caldwell spoke about the business survey that was put out into the community by emergency management in order to gather information about the state of local businesses.

“That survey came out of our office in just the hopes of trying to help our business community. We know that (the state’s) response (to COVID-19) is going to hurt,” said Caldwell.

The surveys were sent out through the Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce and Lewis County Economic Development Council in the hopes of getting as many responses back as possible so that when emergency management gets information from the state or federal government that may assist local businesses they can get help out to businesses sooner, Caldwell said.

“Right now all we have are the Small Business Administration loans. They’re loans to help people through this tough time but as more things become available we want to make sure we get that information out as soon as possible,” said Caldwell.

He said that the information gathered from the surveys will help inform decision-makers as to how many businesses have closed and how many employees have been laid off.

Caldwell said that an incident management team composed of representatives from police and fire departments, public health, emergency management and a county finance employee meet every morning at 8 a.m. to track what is happening day-to-day. 

“Public health does have quarantine procedures in place. It might not be exactly what we’re expecting but they are following state and federal standards,” said Caldwell.

The quarantine procedures that are in place say that individuals who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should be in quarantine.

“The virus is the main issue at hand but there are also other issues that are below the surface that we need to make sure stay on our radar. We’re all pretty familiar with the issues with the supply chain but one thing we also need to be aware of is good reliable water delivery,” said Caldwell.

The county has started work on a plan in case water technicians and treatment employees become infected to make sure water delivery does not become an issue. Caldwell said that he wants everyone to know that emergency management is not only focused on the virus but the unintended consequences as well.

Caldwell mentioned that emergency management has received 23 requests for personal protective equipment from all over the county and have not been able to fulfill any of them yet.

“The state said we should be expecting deliveries. They didn’t give us a quantity and they didn’t give us a timeframe just that there is movement happening. … We want to make sure we are prioritizing our needs,” he said.

The Lewis County website is the place for residents to get the most up-to-date and accurate information about what is going on within the county regarding COVID-19, Caldwell said.

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