Community Letter About Preparedness for COVID-19

City Manager Pro Tem Sarah Medary

Friday, March 27, 2020

Dear Eugene,

For me, this week has been an odd mix of things moving both fast and slow. Emergency response efforts usually just feel fast. This one is slightly different while we wait each day for more certainty. We know it’s a long road, but none of us know how long or how challenging it will be. I’ve had that “are we there yet?” feeling as I settle into the reality of not knowing when we’ll be there, wherever there is.

I continue to be grateful and inspired by the team staffing our emergency operations center (EOC). This week we took most of our EOC to a virtual platform to further protect our employees working to protect you. I join their meeting each morning and continue to be impressed with how upbeat and committed everyone is to solve a problem that doesn’t have a clear ending. Eugene Springfield Fire Chief Chris Heppel is continuing to lead the way as our incident commander and it’s clear we are all benefitting from his depth of experience in the military and fire service.

I’ve been talking with our city team about leadership resilience and the need to stay open, resourceful and persistent. Stressful situations like this pull people to the drama triangle, which some of you may be experiencing in your homes and workplaces. In the drama triangle, we tend to react by blaming/attacking, being a victim, or being a martyr. It sneaks up on you when you are tired and stressed. Staying curious, asking questions, being open to new ideas, and staying persistent and consistent takes awareness. I also understand that sometimes we all just want to blame someone for what’s happening. Even if it’s the lack of toilet paper on the shelves.

This week the City started training Outreach Teams to focus on the safety of unhoused individuals in our community. These Outreach Teams will be staffed by employees who have experience working with the unhoused. They will focus on the safety of individuals where they are and helping people understand how to slow the spread of COVID-19.

I am continually inspired by the number of businesses and individuals that have expressed a desire to help the community. We recently posted an online resource needs form to help link available resources to the emergency medical, safety and civic services in our community that need them.

I’ve also heard a few concerns about businesses that don’t seem to be following the Governor’s Order, especially in relation to social distancing. I hope you’ll let them know of your concerns and you can also call the Lane County COVID-19 call center, 541-682-1380, or report directly to OSHA. Education will be the first effort to gain compliance.

The most important thing we can all do right now is the same – stay home as much as possible, keep our hands washed, and remain physically, but not emotionally, distanced from others. I do strongly encourage everyone to stay connected in other ways. Earlier this week I had a glass of wine with friends over FaceTime and was surprised at how great that felt. If you don’t have anyone to connect with, feel free to connect with me. I’m happy to get to know you during this time.

In community spirit,

Sarah Medary

City Manager Pro Tem

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