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Joint Information Center opens for Union, Wallowa and Baker counties

JIC center

Emergency managers for Union, Baker and Wallowa counties have activated the NE Oregon Joint Information Center near the Union County Administration Office, La Grande, to help coordinate and distribute information about the coronavirus pandemic.

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.”

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According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Can I get COVID-19 from my pets or other animals?

There is no reason at this time to think that any animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States.

Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, such as washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene.

Should I avoid contact with pets or other animals if I am sick with COVID-19?

You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the new coronavirus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets.

What about imported animals or animal products?

CDC does not have any evidence to suggest that imported animals or animal products pose a risk for spreading COVID-19 in the United States.

What precautions should be taken for animals that have recently been imported from outside the United States?

At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets and service animals, can spread COVID-19. As with any animal introduced to a new environment, animals recently imported should be observed daily for signs of illness. If an animal becomes ill, the animal should be examined by a veterinarian. Call your local veterinary clinic before bringing the animal into the clinic and let them know that the animal was recently imported from another country.