Walla Walla City Council approves resolution declaring an emergency
At a special meeting this afternoon, the Walla Walla City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution declaring an emergency due to the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The emergency areas include the City of Walla Walla and all parts of Walla Walla and Umatilla counties where City facilities, property, and/or personnel may be located. Officials in College Place and Waitsburg will meet this week to discuss the situations in their own cities. To date, no City of Walla Walla personnel or Walla Walla County residents have tested positive for COVID-19.
Walla Walla’s resolution, available online here, authorizes the Walla Walla City Manager to enter into contracts for public works and purchases, protect the health and safety of persons and property, provide emergency assistance to residents, and other actions necessary to respond to emergency situations.
The provisions waiving competitive bidding requirements and granting the City Manager additional contracting authority are in effect until 9 p.m. on April 8, 2020, unless extended beyond that date by further City Council action. The remainder of the resolution will continue as long as the COVID-19 situation lasts or until Council takes action to change, modify, or terminate it.
In addition, the City of Walla Walla activated the City’s Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) at 10 a.m. today in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Per the COOP, the City will shift its focus to performing mission-essential functions.
Beginning Tuesday, March 17, all City buildings will be closed to the general public. Only mission-critical functions and duties that do not require close personal contact with the public will provided.
- City Hall will be closed, so utility payments may not be made in person. Payments can be submitted online; mailed to City Hall, 15 N. 3rd Ave.; or placed in the City utility drop box located along Third Avenue near the entrance to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers building, 201 N. Third Ave.
- Development Services will continue to process permits online and via email and phone. Building inspections will continue.
- Public Works will continue with construction projects. Garbage and recycling services will continue, and the Sudbury Landfill will remain open to the public. Officials emphasize that residents should not need to stock up on bottled water, as the City’s water supply continues to be monitored and tested, and is safe to drink.
- All Recreation programs are canceled or postponed, and facility reservations are canceled through April 24. Parks business offices will be closed, but public parks will remain open to the public. Parks staff will continue with parks/cemetery maintenance.
- The Walla Walla Public Library is closed to the public, and all Library programs are canceled.
- Police and Fire businesses offices will be closed to the public, and all public programs are canceled or postponed. In the event of emergency, WWPD may allow limited entrance to the Walla Walla Police Station as deemed necessary by Chief Scott Bieber.
- Applications for City employment may only be made online here.
- City Council work sessions and meetings will continue, but members of the public will not be able to attend in person. The meetings will be livestreamed on the City website, and the public may provide input via a chat function or by emailing City Clerk Kammy Hill at email@example.com.
These actions are subject to change due to the rapidity of changing events associated with COVID-19. City officials are meeting daily to discuss the situation, and a City representative is attending daily meetings with Walla Walla County’s Unified Command, which includes local health and government officials.
City leaders are also working with and supporting our community partners to ensure residents with needs can continue to get the services they require. We ask that people look out for each other, and notify civic groups or officials if you know of someone who needs assistance. The County operates a public health hotline you can call if you have concerns: 509-524-2647.
Walla Walla Public Schools will provide free meal services for students beginning Tuesday, March 17. Click here for details and locations.
To stay current on the latest City of Walla Walla updates, visit the City website and follow the City’s social media accounts. Here are additional steps you can take to stay informed:
- Follow the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health and Walla Walla County Emergency Management on Facebook. The County health department provides regularly updated COVID-19 statistics on its website.
- Visit www.cdc.gov/Other/emailupdates/ to sign up for official updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Follow Gov. Jay Inslee on Facebook or Twitter.
- Visit the website of the Washington State Department of Health.
- A state call center can answer questions about COVID-19, how it spreads, and what to do if you have symptoms. Call 800-525-0127 and press #.