June 19, 2020
Business and Community News
COVID-19 Precautions More Important Than Ever
The illusion of Columbia County existing in a safety bubble immune from the virus has been firmly erased with reports of 7 new positive COVID-19 cases in the last 3 days. Anything over 2 new cases at once is considered an outbreak, and measures must be taken to reduce the spread. These cases are all related, but a great deal of contract tracing is being conducted by our Public Health department staff. This means they are notifying and referring for testing those that had direct contact, notifying and monitoring those that had indirect contact, and implementing quarantine and isolation as needed. Click on the picture to read more about quarantine, isolation, and social distancing. Unless you know for a fact that you've been in direct contact with a person that tested positive, have been contacted by the health department, or are exhibiting symptoms of the virus, you do not need to be tested.

I must admit that in the last several weeks, I personally had become complacent and had relaxed my diligence in wearing a mask and being cautious during my interactions in the community. This is a wake-up call for all of us. Public Health officials all over the world say that social distancing and wearing a mask are critical in the effort to stop the spread of this virus. Following the directives of health officials is important, and I'm going to take my own advice and do a better job of wearing a mask when in public. We cannot control the actions of others - we can only control our own behavior. The choices we make matter, and it is incumbent upon each of us to do our best to keep ourselves and our fellow community members safe.

´╗┐If you find wearing a mask uncomfortable, try a different mask. There are many, many shapes and sizes. If you don't have a mask, call Public Health at 382-2181 and they can provide you with cloth masks. They have plenty.

For business owners - please note that our office has received several calls from residents saying they no longer want to patronize some of our businesses whose staff are not wearing masks. Besides providing for a safer environment, choosing to mask up may help increase your sales. We have also heard reports of the Department of L&I issuing fines to businesses in Walla Walla that were not following the reopening guidelines provided by the state. Here are some links to L&I press releases:

It's been pretty great to have our community opened up more in Phase 3. We're going to have to be careful in order to keep it this way.
All Wheels Cruise Tonight & Virtual Car Show Tomorrow
Tonight you can step outside your door and enjoy the All Wheels Cruise for local cars scheduled to start just after 6:00 pm. Those interested in participating should line up by the football field by 6:00. Click on the map to see the closest spot to your house to view the cruise. If you come downtown to enjoy the cruise, please remember to social distance.

Tomorrow between 10 am and 4 pm you can enjoy the CarVID-20 virtual car show! You can even vote for your favorite car! Visit allwheelsweekend.com for details on both events.
Heartfelt Thank You from the Food Bank Board
In the great spirit of our community, you heard the call and responded to the request for weekly volunteers at the Food Bank. 20 people showed up and will rotate volunteer shifts going forward. The Food Bank Board asked me to share their heartfelt thank you to all who responded. Just this week, they provided food to 190 families. This is the highest number yet, so the needs in our community continue to be felt.
Shred Day at Homestreet Bank
HomeStreet Bank is hosting the ever-popular shred day on Saturday, June 27th between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Due to taking the necessary COVID-19 precautions, those wishing to bring materials for shredding must stay in their cars. Please call Judi Pilcher at HomeStreet Bank at 382-9380 for more information on what materials may be shredded.
Small Business Loan & Grant Updates
Port staff have been working hard the last two weeks to gather the needed information from local businesses to facilitate getting them the state funds they were awarded. It's been quite a process. More good news is that the Port applied for and received a $20,000 grant from the Innovia Foundation for additional micro grants to businesses. We have requests out for more funding as well. The application process is being put in place now and will be shared through this newsletter when we're ready to receive applications.

The requirements for PPP Loans have changes, making them more flexible for smaller businesses. There's still $180 billion available to lend, but you must apply by June 30th. SBA has also released a shorter version of the application form for PPP loan forgiveness.

One local business recently reported that they had near-record sales in the month of May. As soon as Walla Walla moved to Phase 2, that business's sales dropped 50% immediately. The economic road looks rocky going forward. I heard a great quote from the Walla Walla Chamber director this week: "The shortest line to economic recovery is to shop local." He couldn't be more correct. The Port will continue to do anything we can to bring resources to the community. You can help by shopping local!

Enjoy the beautiful Father's Day Weekend!