A closed sign in Engelberg Antiks in downtown Salem on Thursday, March 19. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)
NOTE: Salem Reporter is providing free access to its content related to the coronavirus as a community service. Subscriptions help support this.
In Salem, residents can still hit the gym, but they can no longer get their teeth cleaned or a haircut in some places.
Salem’s streets are seeing less traffic as people are staying home or preparing to.
A visit to downtown Thursday felt like walking around on a major holiday, just a few people out with limited options of where people can go after bans on gatherings of 25 or more people, dining in at restaurants and extended school closures were announced this week in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 which has claimed three lives in Oregon.
At the Book Bin sales have been down and the bookstore is operating with a “skeleton crew.”
The store has reduced its hours, opening Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is emphasizing curbside pickup and home deliveries, owner Obadiah Baird said.
Baird said he’s laid off some employees and he’s personally driving books around the Salem-Keizer area.
As regular customers learn about delivery, he said they’re placing more orders, giving him hope for the Book Bin’s ability to weather the pandemic.
“There’s been more and more everyday,” he said.
Puzzles have been popular and the store is also selling coffee from The Governor’s Cup Coffee Roasters to help the independent coffee shop stay in business after it temporarily closed due to the pandemic.
As of Friday, there were 114 cases of COVID-19 in the state.
And the state restrictions continue to pile up. Gov. Kate Brown on Wednesday ordered a stop to all elective medical procedures. She said she wasn’t yet ready to require the drastic step of mandating that Oregonians stay home. The “shelter in place” strategy became reality in California Thursday night.
At the Oregon State Capitol, families had picnics or played tag under the cherry blossoms with children out of school for the next five and a half weeks.
Downtown, nearly every business had signs in the window signaling closures or modified services.
Salon 554 is closing its doors until April 6, noting that it didn’t want to be a conduit for the novel coronavirus.
Large retailers like Macy’s and J.C. Penney announced countrywide closures earlier this week.
Beauty stores like Ulta and Bath & Body Works also shuttered temporarily.
Salem has seen a drop in traffic volumes around town, said Tony Martin, assistant city traffic engineer.
“The traffic volumes appear to be like the summer months when school is out,” Martin said in an email.
Statewide there’s been a significant reduction in traffic along major arterials, said Lou Torres, Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman.
Cherriots is urging riders not to use the bus unless it’s for a critical trip.
“We are staying open for people to go to grocery stores, to work at the hospital, or to pick up prescriptions at pharmacies. Unless you have a critical need, please stay home,” Cherriots announced.
Starting Friday, the transit service said it will reduce the frequency of some routes due to drivers calling out of work.
Oregon’s Department of Motor Vehicles and state law enforcement agencies have agreed to stop penalizing drivers with expired licenses or registrations for a grace period set to expire when the state’s emergency declaration does in 48 days.
“The added stress of driving without a valid license or registration is one barrier we can eliminate. Our mission is to protect, not unnecessarily penalize, Oregonians,” said OSP Superintendent Travis Hampton in a news release.
The Department of Environmental Quality has also suspended emissions testing.
Salem residents have mobilized to offer a helping hand in what is quickly becoming an economic crisis for the city.
The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce created a Facebook page called Salem Eats to allow restaurants to post info about their operations and menu and also created a page for job seekers called Salem Hires.
Maps Credit Union is hiring for receptionists and a teller. Johnson and Taylor Law is hiring for a part-time receptionist. Freres Lumber Co. has openings at its lumber mill for plywood associates.
The Keizer Chamber of Commerce set up a Facebook page called Keizer’s Hungry to provide details about local restaurants’ curbside offerings.
Los Dos Hermanos is offering breakfast burritos from 11 a.m. to noon for takeout or delivery. Adam’s Ribs Smokehouse is offering barbecue for pickup or delivery from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Salem created new 15-minute parking slots downtown for restaurant patrons picking up to-go orders. The spaces will be available until May 31.
For those stuck at home, local entertainment venues are using social media to stay engaged with audiences.
Venues like Capitol City Theater are offering virtual shows and local musicians are streaming virtual concerts.
Salem musician Jarred Venti organized a virtual show for Saturday, March 21 at 7 p.m. featuring Erin Westfall and Sean McLeod, Elvicious Cash and Rich McCloud.
Jordan Truitt, of Truitt Bros., is donating 4,368 snack packs of shelf-stable hummus and crackers, a pallet of bean dip cups and large cans of whole beans to the Marion Polk Food Share.
Rapunzel, a three-year-old domestic shorthair, awaits adoption at the Willamette Humane Society, which is allowing adoptions by appointment only. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)
Willamette Valley Humane Society is changing the way it does adoptions. Now, would-be adopters need to look online to find the pets they’re interested in, fill out an adoption application online and schedule an appointment to meet the pet. Appointments are limited to two people at a time.
The shelter currently has 39 dogs, 65 cats and 25 pets in foster homes.
On Wednesday night the shelter decided to close its clinic after Brown issued an executive order to preserve medical equipment.
Callie Gisler, communications manager at the Willamette Humane Society, said the shelter is about the head into kitten season where they see an additional 500 kittens come through the organization.
“If this continues for a long time we are definitely going to be asking for help,” Gisler said.
Touch of Mink, a beauty supply store in west Salem, is processing large orders of hand sanitizer for Capitol Manor, the Salem Police Department and Marion County after a run on sanitization supplies in recent weeks has left organizations unable to find the product.
A local distillery, Divine Distillers, is making hand sanitizer out of its byproduct.
UPS told customers that the shipping service is increasing the frequency of cleanings.
“Many people are asking the same question: is it safe to receive and handle a shipment? The (World Health Organization) and CDC have stated that the likelihood of catching the COVID-19 virus by touching cardboard or other shipping containers is low,” read a UPS email.
Across the U.S., gyms like 24 Hour Fitness, Orangetheory Fitness and Planet Fitness have temporarily closed. Locally, Courthouse Club Fitness, which has five locations around Salem, canceled its group classes until March 22 but remains open.
Drew Baker, vice president of club operations at Courthouse Fitness Club, said the gym doesn’t have anything set in stone about what it plans to do.
When asked if the gym has plans to close, Baker wouldn’t give a definitive answer and hung up the phone.
On its website, the gym said it would start filming some of its classes to post online and plans to offer 24/7 access for medical professionals and first responders.
“Your support during this time of uncertainty is allowing us to continue to pay our full-time employees, who are eager to quickly restart all of our programs when the time comes,” the gym announced.
Physiq Fitness, which has three locations around Salem, modified its hours.
Its general manager didn’t respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.
West Coast Strength in west Salem is canceling its classes and closing its childcare area.
The gym said it will continue to stay open until it’s no longer in the best interest or health of its members.
“We will continue to make assessments daily about business hours, closures and policies,” the gym wrote in an email to its members.
States like California, Colorado and New York have ordered the closing of gyms statewide.
State campgrounds are closing until May 8. There’s a small window for people who have already made reservations to camp until April 2.
Jolene Kelley, county spokeswoman, said only one of Marion County’s parks has camping and its closed for the season.