A week into the freeze, people are celebrating Thanksgiving in a much quieter fashion. No need to extend the leaf of the dining room table, dust off the extra set of dishes, or fight with your friends over the best seat in the house to watch the football game.
“We are going into the holiday season and it is difficult to not spend this time with family and friends,” Creswell Mayor Amy Knudsen said at Monday’s city council meeting. “I miss my loved ones that I have not seen in over a year. I miss gathering in council chambers for our meetings and seeing you all face-to-face. But I support this freeze and hope it helps slow the spread of the virus.”
Gov. Kate Brown issued a statewide two-week freeze through Dec. 2, limiting social gatherings to no more than six people and two households; prohibiting indoor visits at long-term care facilities; limiting restaurants to take-out only; and closing down gyms and activity centers.
Since last week, Oregon Health Authority reports an increase in Lane County with 473 (+166) infections, 39 (+3) dead, and 4,001 (+615) all-time positive cases – with nearly half of those new cases coming from Springfield.
Since last week, Springfield cases increased by 314, bringing the city over the thousand-case threshold. OHA reports 1,030 all-time cases in Springfield, with cases also rising elsewhere: 107 (+24) in Cottage Grove; 65 (+22) in Creswell; and 22 (+2) in Pleasant Hill.
Knudsen said her cousin is a hospital nurse in Lane County. “She has had to isolate herself from her family and friends to limit their exposure. She said … if the numbers continue to rise in Lane County, there may not be an ICU bed or nurse to care for your loved one. Just think about the tough decisions that will have to be made. Triaging those we can save while not being able to treat and care for others. These are the tough decisions that hospitals and staff are having to make.”
Lane County Sheriff’s Office received two calls at the same address in Creswell over the weekend from an anonymous caller stating there was a large gathering without masks, Sgt. Scott Denham said. Deputies will not respond to these calls, he said, due to the volume of call loads and the limited staffing. “If we can’t go to a house for a burglary call, then we can’t go to a call about large gatherings. … It’s being treated like a fireworks call.”
As quiet as the dining room table may be this week, quieter still are the local businesses that can’t reap the rewards of the busiest shopping season of the year. For those fortunate enough to make it through the first shutdown, business owners are having to again readjust, and agree that take-out orders, drive-thrus, online ordering and gift certificates can help them survive the freeze.
Seth Clark, owner of Blue Valley Bistro in Creswell and Coburg, is surviving at his Creswell location by drive-thru and gift certificate sales. Clark plans to sell his traditional bread pudding and offer drive-thru service through noon on Thanksgiving.
“My Creswell store is doing better than the last two weeks of March, but who’s to say that’s going to continue if this (freeze) goes four or six weeks,” Clark said, noting that he has been having enough drive-thru clientele in Creswell to keep busy so far. “On the other hand, I’m trying desperately to not let any of my employees go – especially at our Coburg shop. We’re going to grin-and-bear-it this next week and then see what happens. If we can open up the week of Dec. 3, we will, otherwise it’s back to the drawing board.”
Betsy Hartzell, owner of Kalapuya Books in Cottage Grove, has been working on ways to expand the store’s presence. Customers can now order books via email, social media or curbside pick-up, and the store has expanded its online presence.
“We have always had some online business but now we are really trying to expand it,” Hartzell said. They launched kalapuyabooks.com last week, and “We are linked with an online platform of independent bookstores that are trying to do an end-around on Amazon,” called bookshop.org/shop/kalapuyabooks.
“We will sustain through this and possible future change because we are committed to our community,” said Dale Smith, owner of Coast Fork Feed Store & Coast Fork Brewing in Cottage Grove. Smith said Coast Fork Brewing has expanded its outdoor seating with a tent and heaters. “Spring will come, and with it, a time to garden and renew.”
Samantha Duncan, Be Your Best coalition coordinator in Cottage Grove, said, “The best thing the community can do right now is take this virus seriously … The sooner folks understand that we have the power to slow the spread as we get better therapeutics and a vaccine, the sooner businesses like mine can reopen and feel good about it.”
Dana Merryday contributed to this report.