PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend Public Library has postponed Community Read events originally set for this month until late fall because of concerns about COVID-19.
Additional city events are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis with regard to public health and the possibility of an outbreak of the unique coronavirus, City Manager John Mauro said.
As of Thursday, Jefferson County has had one confirmed case of the virus. The county’s Public Health Department reported 56 total tests sent out with 19 negative and 36 pending.
Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday banned gatherings of 250 people or more in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, where there were 319 confirmed cases combined, according to data from the state Department of Health.
“We’re still in the process of evaluating all the current information, including what the governor is saying,” Mauro said. “Right now, there is no community-level outbreak, so we’re trying to right-size this response.
“An abundance of caution would have us thinking about particular events.”
Library Director Melody Eisler said the Community Read events will be rescheduled for late fall, possibly late October or early November.
“It’s just for the greater good and the safety and health interests of our community, staff, our authors and our volunteers,” she said.
John Larison, the Oregon author who wrote the selected book, “Whiskey When We’re Dry,” will be able to attend later in the year, Eisler added.
“The good news is it will give people a little more time to read the book,” she said.
The library also has 24-hour online access for those who have cards to check out ebooks or audiobooks, Eisler said.
Mauro said increased signage at all city facilities offer reminders about good hygiene habits, and the facilities are being cleaned and disinfected more frequently than they had been.
Staff members who have certain symptoms are prohibited from working, Mauro said, citing an order from Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke.
Port Townsend City Council meetings as well as those of the Jefferson County commissioners continue to be open for people to attend in person, but Mauro and County Administrator Philip Morley both encouraged people this week to watch the live streams through the respective agency’s website and to submit public comments via email.
“We’re taking this seriously, but we also don’t want to be overblown in terms of our response,” Mauro said. “We’re sizing it appropriately, and we’re getting ready to ramp it up.
“We’re ready to be agile.”
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].