By Lauren Westmoreland
The city of Portola, much like every other city in the nation, is closely monitoring the fluid developments with the arrival of Covid19, the novel coronavirus, in California.
As of Wednesday, March 18, Plumas County Public Health reported 16 tests administered for Covid19, 10 negative test results, and six pending tests with zero confirmed cases.
The city of has been preparing for COVID-19 by actively monitoring the spread of the virus, according to City Manager Lauren Knox.
“We established certain internal thresholds based on proximity in order to be proactive,” Knox explained.
“As the virus has been appearing in neighboring communities near the Sacramento and Reno areas, the city has been following employer guidelines established by the CDC for all city employees.”
Because the city of Portola does not have a health department, they rely on the Plumas County Public Health Agency and the local hospital, Eastern Plumas Health Care, to provide this function.
The city is currently relying on information from many sources, including the Plumas County Public Health Agency, California Office of Emergency Services, the California Department of Public Health, League of Cities, and Eastern Plumas Health Care.
The city will continue to work with these agencies to monitor the situation and respond accordingly.
With new guidance issued by the governor of California on March 18 strongly urging the restriction of gatherings of more than 10 people, City Hall has had to make some rapid changes.
Beginning with the regularly scheduled meeting of city council on Wednesday, March 25, council meetings will be held telephonically. “We are still finalizing our conference system details and will be publishing those as soon as they are available so that people can attend remotely,” Knox explained.
“Our main goal is to limit the spread as much as we can and ensure that we can continue to provide vital government services in the event of an outbreak,” Knox said. “We have also been ensuring that any city Portola employee that is sick stays home to not spread any sickness to other members of the public.”
The essential services of water, wastewater and snow removal services will continue. The city’s main focus is to ensure these essential services remain functioning.
City Hall will temporarily be closing to the general public. Appointments may be made for urgent matters only. There will be a station at the entrance of City Hall for customers to utilize the drop box.
Payments can also be made online at cityofportola.com. This is in accordance with social distancing recommendations by the CDC and California Department of Public Health. City employees will still be working at City Hall and will be available by phone at 832-4216.
Due to the uncertainty surrounding this pandemic, the city wants to ensure that everyone is able to follow hygienic safety measures to combat this virus. With that in mind, the city has temporarily suspended water shut-offs due to an inability to pay.
Portola understands that people may be facing financial challenges right now and will also be waiving assessment of penalties in the month of March.
The city is stressing the need for all residential and wastewater (sewer) customers to only flush toilet paper.
“Please do not flush wipes, rags or any products other than toilet paper down the toilets. These materials cause blockages in the sewer system which results in backups causing unsanitary conditions,” Knox stressed. “If you must use items other than toilet paper please dispose of them properly.”
According to city staff, Portola will not be assisting anyone with a sewer backup on their property and will be held harmless against any and all claims for the same, adding, “City staff appreciate your patience and understanding as we all work together to minimize the impacts and spread of COVID- 19. The city of Portola will continue to advise and update the community as information becomes available.”
For those with urgent business at City Hall, City staff are asking all city of Portola residents and utility billing customers to self-assess using the following questions:
– Have you, someone living in your household, someone with you, someone you have been in close or frequent contact with, or someone you are caring for been diagnosed with COVIS-19 (Coronavirus) or had any contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
– In the last 14 days, have you, someone living in your household, or someone with you have been in close or frequent contact with, or someone you are caring for returned from, or made a travel connection through a CDC Level 2 or Level 3 country or State Department Level 3 or Level 4 country, for example, China, Korea, Japan, the European Union or Iran?
– Do you currently have, or have you had within the last 24 hours, any cold or flu symptoms, including a fever greater than 100.4, shortness of breath, body aches and coughing?
If the answer to all of these question is “NO,” please call City Hall at 832-4216 to make an appointment for urgent matters only. To make a payment please utilize City Hall’s drop box located at the main entrance or go online to www.ci.portola.
ca.us to utilize the online payment system.
If any of the answers to the questions is “YES,” please call 832-4216 so city staff may assist you through other means besides face-to-face.