City of Eugene: COVID-19 Community Update

One year ago today, the City of Eugene – along with Lane County and Springfield – declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We had no idea our city and the world would be so greatly impacted by the virus; the loved ones we would lose, the connections that were no longer safe, and the loss of so many “normal” interactions and events. As of today, 136 Lane County residents have lost their lives to COVID-19, and more than 2,300 Oregonians.  

Even with the great loss Oregon has experienced, our county and state were spared the overwhelming surges of COVID-19 patients in hospitals that was seen in other parts of our country. This is, in part, due to the sacrifices we all made. Thank you to all in our community who continue to take COVID-19 precautions.  We’re not through this yet, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  

While essential City services continued, we formed several new teams to respond to all of the challenges COVID-19 brought. Read on for a message from the City Manager and to learn about some of the work we’ve done since last March to help support the community.  

Strike Teams Provide Vaccine Support 

Several strike teams have been dispatched to assist at local vaccination events. These strike teams are mostly made up of first responders from Eugene Springfield Fire, and have provided 25,500 vaccinations since early February.

A member of Eugene Springfield Fire vaccinates someone at a first responder clinic.

Childcare for First Responders and the Community

The City of Eugene, in partnership with Eugene YMCA and Eugene 4J School District, provided emergency childcare to first responders and essential workers in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. City Recreation staff then continued to provide safe childcare services to our community throughout the pandemic meeting a critical community need.

Business Support

To support local business, the City initiated several recovery strategies during the pandemic:

  • Through a partnership with Business Oregon, distributed free PPE to more than 1,584 businesses and nonprofits in Eugene. In total, we distributed:
    • 36,630 boxes of face masks
    • 14,652 packages of disinfecting wipes
    • 14,108 boxes of vinyl gloves
  • Created the Streatery Program to allow restaurants to expand their serving areas onto sidewalks and on-street parking spaces.
  • Helped facilitate outdoor fitness classes in parking garages, public sidewalks and via low-cost park rentals.
  • Opened Kesey Square “Food Hall” to offer space for the public to sit and eat take-out food from downtown restaurants and food carts.
  • Provided designated free parking spots in front of local restaurants for carry-out customers and delivery companies.
  • Established a Business Help Team to assist employers by answering questions about financing options, reopening guidelines and other topics.

Learn more about the City’s business support.

Outreach to the Unhoused Community

COVID-19 created a new and challenging landscape for providing services to people experiencing homelessness. Our goal is to balance the varying needs for community safety and recovery. We worked with critical community partners to support the unhoused with programs including:
Designated temporary shelter sites: We worked with non-profit social service providers to establish designated temporary shelter sites to give people experiencing homelessness a safe and sanitary place to live, while reducing the need for the residents to move around the community. Watch a video highlighting the positive impact of the designated temporary shelter sites.
Microsites: The City established two microsites to provide longer-term transitional shelter to small groups of individuals who are currently experiencing homelessness. Staff continue to seek additional sites, exploring both public and private property partnerships.
Sanitation Stations: We distributed portable restrooms and hand washing stations throughout the community to support sanitation and hygiene needs. See current locations of all sanitation stations.
Mobile outreach teams: The City stood up mobile outreach teams to reach out to people sheltering where they were, monitor community health, provide COVID-19 education and essential hygiene needs, and give appropriate referrals to services. This work continues as the City adapted this model to create a longer-term outreach team that connects with people experiencing homelessness and supports them in getting assistance.

The City continues to work with Lane County and partners in the community to find safe places for unhoused community members, including creating more low-barrier shelter, affordable and permanent supportive housing, as well as rest stops and additional microsites. Read more about these efforts.

Eugene Community Recovery 

Eugene Community Recovery represents the work of the City of Eugene, regional partners and members of our community who are working together to restore and improve the health and prosperity of our city as we begin the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Through our efforts and partner collaboration, the Recovery Team was able to get CARES Act Funding dollars out into the community by the December 31, 2020 deadline. We’ve been focused on ensuring equity and access in resource distribution – we know certain portions of our community have had a greater negative impact from COVID-19 and we have been committed to ensuring our resources are going to those who need it most. Read about our recovery focus areas and specific actions to support the community.

A Message From Your City Manager

I can’t believe I’m writing a one-year anniversary reflection of COVID-19 arriving in Eugene. I’m carrying strong feelings of hope while also acknowledging and feeling the exhaustion and pain of a long and challenging year. Many of you have experienced the direct health-related impacts of this virus, and my heart goes out to each of you who has suffered a loss or are still fighting for your own health. As we celebrate the cases going down and vaccines becoming increasingly available, it’s as important as ever to stay vigilant in prevention. My handwashing routine is forever changed, and I can’t imagine a day that I won’t have face masks in every corner of my life. 

Read the complete Message From Your City Manager.

A Message From Your Elected Officials

Hear from Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis, Springfield Mayor Sean VanGordon, and Lane County Commission Chair Joe Berney about the past year at Lane County’s weekly press conference tomorrow, Thursday, March 18, at 10:30 a.m. on their Facebook page, or watch later on the County’s Vimeo channel.

Our deepest gratitude goes to the frontline workers in our community. From health care professionals treating COVID-19 patients to those who enabled vital services to continue at grocery stores, post offices, childcare centers and all of the places people need to visit in-person. Your daily work is greatly appreciated by everyone in Eugene.

And to you – our friends, neighbors and community members – thank you for your commitment this past year to help save lives. Your sacrifices have made a difference and you may never know whose life you saved. We hope you are able to take a moment this week to reflect on all we have been through this past year. Through our collective action and sacrifice we are now able to begin to look towards the future with hope and optimism.

We are grateful to our partners at Lane County Public Health for their tireless work over the last year to lead our county through the COVID-19 pandemic and now their enormous effort pivoting to the largest vaccination effort our country has ever undertaken. Each week the County is able to vaccinate more and more of our community. Please make sure you are pre-registered to get your vaccine when you become eligible and the vaccine doses are available.

With vaccine distribution underway we can all look forward to slowly reintroducing some of our favorite traditions, and perhaps most importantly, safely hugging the people dearest to us in the near future. We have many exciting projects on the horizon for our community and we can’t wait to see you!

COVID-19 Resources

See a list of Community Resources for physical and mental health, food, housing, businesses, employees, schools and children, as well as information in Spanish.

Also learn how you can help. Our partners have a significant amount of information available online. Please visit these resources for the most up to date information:

Lane County Call Center: Open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m., 541-682-1380

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