County offices open for business, closed to public access
At 5:00 p.m. today, Monday, March 23, 2020, Benton County will close public access to all lobbies and meeting spaces. Many County services are available online or over the phone. The service adjustments are being undertaken in accordance with guidelines from public health authorities to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These closures, while disruptive, are to remain in effect until further notice to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

Four known COVID-19 cases as of March 23

On March 16, 2020, the Benton County Health Department reported two residents, who are currently located in the state of Washington, tested positive for COVID-19. The residents have been residing with relatives in Washington. They were infected by a household contact in Washington, and will stay in Washington through their illness and recovery period. Benton County Health Department routinely performs follow-up investigation for people that live in Benton County and get a communicable disease while traveling. 

On March 21, 2020, the Health Department reported two more cases of COVID-19. 

One case is a female Benton County resident between 40-50 years of age and is being treated at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis. As part of the Health Department’s response, health officials are in contact with the patient. Origin and contact investigation is ongoing, but officials think exposure occurred through domestic travel. 

The other case is a male Benton County resident between 40-50 years of age. This individual is not hospitalized, and was likely exposed due to being a healthcare worker.
Attend County Board meetings via GoToMeeting

The County has taken steps to utilize current technology to make Board of Commissioner meetings available to the public without increasing the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

County officials strongly encourage all individuals that are able to use the video link or phone number provided to listen to the meeting from home. For best results, staff has found that downloading and using the GoToMeeting app is the best way to listen to or view the meeting. Individuals are encouraged to give themselves plenty of time to download the app and join the meeting before the start time.

Additionally, the Board is live streaming their teleconference-style meetings on Facebook Live. Individuals can follow and like Benton County at https://business.facebook.com/BentonCoGov.

Following the teleconference-style meetings, the video recording will be made available on the Benton County YouTube channel. Individuals are encouraged to subscribe to the Benton County YouTube channel to be notified when the Board Meetings are posted. Visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEwNH7PIM0c5u7yTnTDoSWw and click the “Subscribe” button at the top right.
Benton County COVID-19 Phone Bank

Individuals with questions regarding COVID-19 in Benton County may call 541-766-6120, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., to reach a County-staffed phone bank.
Board declares local state of emergency

On Tuesday, March 16, the Benton County Board unanimously voted to declare a county emergency. With the declaration, Benton County can access state and federal resources if the emergency response exceeds local capacity. This allows for resources and services to be allocated only in unincorporated areas of the county (Adair Village, Alpine, Alsea, Blodgett, Kings Valley), unless a municipality requests that the County to extend their authority into the city, a request that would be made by a city council. 

On Thursday, March 20, 2020, the City of Philomath Council voted to adopt an emergency declaration. As part of that declaration, Philomath requested emergency operational aid for public health and economic needs from the county, State of Oregon and federal government. Because the City of Philomath’s declaration requested Benton County assistance, the City will be able to access state and federal resources if the emergency response exceeds local capacity. 
pioinfo@co.benton.or.us    //  541-766-6800 //   www.co.benton.or.us