May 22, 2020
Business and Community News
Community Health Update
Columbia County Public Health is still reporting no new COVID-19 cases in Columbia County. As of Wednesday, 106 tests had been administered, with 1 positive/recovered, 2 being monitored, and the rest negative. They are now getting test results withing 24 hours. Director Martha Lanman is thankful to the community for the great work in keeping our infection rate almost non-existent.
How is Phase 2 Going?
The roll-out for phase 2 business reopenings was a bit rough but has mostly been worked through. Guidelines from the state were slow in coming, causing some confusion on which businesses could open and which could not, and preparing to meet new safety guidelines was challenging for some of our businesses. Most restaurants are offering dine-in services again on a limited basis, with social distancing and safety protocols in place. Several salons and the barber shop are open, and haircuts are in high demand! The Port and the Chamber are ready to assist businesses that need help developing Safety Policies and Procedures. The Port developed a template for Personal Services businesses to customize for their own use, which has proven very valuable. Businesses in Columbia and even a few in Walla County are using this template, which can be customized for other business sectors.

The question of business liability has come up repeatedly in the Port's conversations with businesses. Will a business be held liable if a customer contracts the virus after visiting their establishment? The Department of Labor & Industries is normally the agency that manages workplace safety, but we haven't gotten a clear answer from either the Governor's office or the Department of L&I regarding this question. 16th District Representative Skyler Rude has offered to help find some resolution to this question, and we'll share it when we receive any information. Normally a business would have to be found negligent before a claim of any kind would be considered valid, so the best way a business can avoid problems is to do their best to follow safety guidelines.
What About Phase 3?
Columbia County will be eligible as of May 29 to apply for Phase 3 Reopening, so an application may be submitted the first week of June. Considering the number of people from out of town that have come to recreate, eat in our restaurants, and get a haircut during phase 2, there is some concern about the effect gatherings of up to 50 people may have on our ability to keep the virus out of our community. Public Health says that will have to be considered before moving forward with another variance.

Several members from the public have asked if 1 new case in Columbia County would push us back to Phase 1. The answer is no. We would have to experience an outbreak in order for our reopening process to be curtailed.
Sanitizer and Masks Available for Businesses
Local distillery XO Alambic has prepared another batch of hand sanitizer and delivered it to the Public Health office this week. Businesses are welcome to bring their spray bottles or other containers to Public Health and have them refilled free of charge.

The community received a donation of 1,000 cloth masks, which are also available to businesses free of charge. Call Public Health at 382-2181 to make arrangements for sanitizer or mask supply pickup.
Small Business Funding Updates & Resources
Governor Inslee announced the recipients of the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant program for 20 counties in Washington, and unfortunately Columbia County was not one of them. This is somewhat confusing as we were one of the first counties to submit applications from local businesses to the Department of Commerce, but we have no control over their review schedule. We have been told we will hear which businesses in our county will be awarded grants no later than 2 weeks from now.

There is still PPP money available. You can apply through your local bank, QuickBooks, PayPal, or other lending institutions.

Resources for Businesses
Dayton Staycation

With travel outside our own counties still discouraged and a holiday weekend, looming, look around and you'll find there's plenty to keep you busy in our beautiful county. Most of our restaurants have resumed full or limited hours for dining in, all are still offering take-out, most retail stores have reopened, tasting rooms are allowed to offer tastings again, and we have lots of open space to take a walk or have a picnic outside. We even have a couple of new business openings on Main Street!

  • Locally Nourished is offering coffee, teas, smoothies, muffins, pastries, and specialty food items. They are located at 217 E Main Street, and their hours are 6 am - 2 pm Friday through Tuesday.

  • The new owners of the Weinhard Hotel have reopened the former coffee shop as Jacob's Public House, offering coffee, beer, wine, and food. Today is their first day back open! Coffee starts at 7 am, and lunch at 11 am! Please welcome these new business owners to Dayton. This is a stressful time to open a business, and we're grateful they are here.
Local Produce Season is Here

Through a spring of fitful weather, ranging from near drought conditions to record rainfalls, our local and regional small crop farmers have persisted and delivered fresh produce on schedule. Verdurous Gardens delivered fresh carrots and first-of-the-season spring mix to the BMS Co-op Market & Nursery this week, Hayshaker Farms delivered Wild Salad Mix, spinach, arugula, and green garlic, and Jimenez Farms asparagus is still going strong. The Co-op Market & Nursery is open all weekend 10 am to 5 pm. Flowers for cemetery memorials are available.

While many of our businesses are hurting, some of our local businesses have seen an increase in sales because people are shopping local. Think about the positive impact that can have on our economy. Stay safe, shop local, and have a great holiday weekend!