On Tuesday, Albany City Manager Peter Troedsson and Mayor Sharon Konopa sat in City Council chambers in front of the dais in two chairs facing a camera, a table in between and potted plant off to the side.
It wasn't a satirical take on Late Night shows or an effort to pay homage to Johnny Carson. It was the latest in a string of ongoing attempts by the city to keep residents informed about the changes and challenges caused by the continued spread of COVID-19.
The illness, which mirrors flu-like symptoms but can cause serious complications, has been confirmed in the mid-valley with more than a dozen cases and at least one death at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans' Home in Lebanon. Benton County has also reported cases.
Statewide, the number has climbed closer to 200 and at least 10 people have died prompting Gov. Kate Brown to institute strict social distancing measures in line with California and Washington. Non-essential businesses have closed, restaurants must offer curb-side takeout or delivery exclusively and schools throughout the state have been closed until April 28.
Currently, city hall is open for business via phone only but the city's website also has options for information. Both public libraries are closed as well as the community pool. The fire station is closed for tours and community meeting rooms and the police station's lobby is closed. The senior center is also closed.
On Tuesday, Konopa and Troedsson addressed the ongoing closure and the city's efforts to help stem the spread while taking a few questions from Facebook and soliciting additional questions to be answered at a later time.
"We know this has been an unsettling time," Konopa said. "We're all faced with it right now."
The pair detailed Gov. Brown's orders that stressed social distancing by staying inside unless absolutely necessary.
"The city is following the Governor's orders," Konopa said. "Do not go out unless you are in need of an essential service. If we don't all follow the rules, this is going to go on longer."
Troedsson assured residents that if they are unable to pay their utility bill, they will not be shut off, citing water as an essential service in stopping the spread of the illness. Both Troedsson and Konopa asked that if residents are able to pay their bill, that they do so noting that the services are paid, in large part, by the fees charged to residents.
"We'll continue to have these videos," Troedsson said, adding that in subsequent live feeds, residents may hear from the fire and police chief as well.
For those without internet access or a computer, Troedsson said calls are being fielded at city hall.
For more information on COVID-19 from the city's perspective or for information on current city services, visit cityofalbany.net/coronavirus.
"We are doing the best we can," Troedsson said, "under the circumstances to provide a continuity of services."
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