LA GRANDE — The dormant NE Oregon Joint Information Center in La Grande is up and running again.
Emergency managers from Union, Wallowa and Baker counties brought together certain employees to work phones and help consolidate information about the novel coronavirus from the makeshift center operating in office space near the Union County Administration Office at 1106 K. Ave. Law enforcement, fire departments, medical providers, emergency managers and state and local agencies will use the center to coordinate communication.
Center manager Jamie Knight explained having a central point of information can mitigate the spread of fear and misinformation.
“Everyone is taking this matter very seriously,” Knight said. “We are trying to provide the best information possible in a timely manner.”
Emergency managers organized the center in 2017 to track and manage information about the solar eclipse. The office space and its phone lines went quiet from then until Tuesday.
“If you don’t hear anything from JIC, it is a really good day,” Knight said.
The center will provide information to the public on Facebook with a daily summary plus additional posts as necessary. The center’s focus is to provide information to Union, Wallowa and Baker counties, none of which has confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The information center also will use email to share information with county commissioners, health care organizations and news outlets.
Knight said the center gathers and disseminates information from official organizations. The emergency managers for the three counties participate in a coordination call each morning to discuss updates, and the center gets that information as well. The public can expect the NE Oregon Joint Information Center to report on county and local school closures and COVID-19 cases if they appear in the tri-county area.
“We are trying to come together as one voice,” Knight said. “We are a group of small communities, utilizing the strength of (the joint information center) to spread the same message across all of the counties.”