Canby Mayor Brian Hodson is an optimist. Although he knows much is still a mystery about the coronavirus pandemic and how it will affect the community, the state, the nation and the world, he is hopeful Canby could be past the worst of it by May — if residents continue to follow the social distancing guidelines and other restrictions in the governor’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” order.
“I believe we can have this beat in the next two to three weeks,” he tells the Canby Now Podcast. “I’m trying to keep us focused on the prize at the end: people safe, everyone back to actual gatherings and businesses back open.”
That will only happen, he cautions, if Canby continues to follow the guidelines and practices that have seen us safely through the past two to three weeks: staying home as much as possible and following all of the social distancing precautions when you must go out.
“I just want to say thank you to the Canby community for continuing to be committed to the social distancing and being safe,” Mayor Hodson said in a livestreamed update on Wednesday. “We’re getting there. Please do your due diligence. Do what you can. If you don’t have to go out, don’t. Enjoy your families. Check on your neighbors, from a distance. Use FaceTime, Zoom meetings. Stay connected to people, but be safe.”
One person who has not been cooperating with the social distancing guidelines is whoever controls the weather up there. The gorgeous sunshine and warm temperatures this week have tempted many out of their homes — which is permitted under the governor’s orders.
Canby’s playground equipment and bathrooms are closed, because of the challenge of keeping these facilities disinfected and safe, and Community Park is closed to vehicular traffic — but the parks and trails themselves are all open to pedestrians.
“Regarding our parks and playground equipment, just because the playground equipment can’t be used, doesn’t mean the green space can’t,” the mayor said. “So please go outside, kick the soccer ball around with your family. Enjoy the fresh air.”
One site in particular that has been “very popular” is the Molalla Forest Logging Road Trail. The mayor admitted he has gotten a number of emails with people concerned about the usage on the trail and whether it complies with the social distancing guidelines designed to keep people safe.
“Remember that social distancing is just that: You can be social, but stay 6 feet apart,” he said. “If you’re walking along the trail, you can wave, say ‘hi,’ be neighborly. But if you’re going to stop and have a brief conversation, please stay 6 feet apart while doing so.”
With so much that has changed, we asked Mayor Hodson if he really sees Canby returning to some semblance of normalcy, including the possibility of gatherings, in two to three weeks.
“There is the concern of the upcoming spike,” he said, referring to the predicted surge and, hopefully, peak that public health officials are predicting within the next week or two. “If we can keep things as they are through that time, it would have to be a serious state and regionwide conversation.”
What would that look like, we asked, and is he concerned that a relaxation of restrictions would lead to an immediate spike in cases?
“Will we rebound? Possibly,” he admitted. “There is always that chance. I think the conversation would have to include keeping hospitals in high alert, senior communities on restricted visitations and that those with compromised health should limit exposure.”
Like many, Hodson has been looking to learn from history’s most severe pandemic, the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918, which was eerily similar to the coronavirus in a number of ways.
In 1918, the first wave occurred in the spring and was generally mild. However, a second, highly contagious wave of influenza appeared with a vengeance in the fall of that same year — with a much higher mortality rate.
“The rebound that we should watch for is the one in the fall time period,” he said. “With the Spanish flu, they thought it was gone and four to five months later, it reared its ugly head again.”
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