Town of Truckee declares local emergency over coronavirus
With more cases of coronavirus reported throughout the state and in Placer County, Truckee has declared a local emergency to prepare the town for possible outbreaks.
“We want to make absolutely clear to council, to the community, to anyone listening, that we don’t feel it is a true emergency,” said Town Manager Jeff Loux. “We don’t want to panic anyone, we don’t want to cause any hysteria. But we believe it is prudent to recognize that this epidemic is real.”
The primary reason for declaring an emergency, Loux said, is that it would give the town access to state and federal emergency funds if necessary. According to town lawyer Andrew Morris, the town would only be eligible for those funds if a state of emergency was declared.
On March 4, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in California, with Nevada County, Grass Valley and Nevada City declaring local emergencies this week. While Placer County has reported eight cases and one death, there are currently no known cases of coronavirus in Nevada County.
“The stigma of declaring an emergency is where this becomes problematic,” said Truckee Police Chief Rob Leftwich. He compared the declaration to signing a Memorandum of Understanding “to obtain logistical and operational funding from state and federal resources.”
“That’s exactly what we’re doing,” Leftwich said. “Hopefully we won’t need the funding for anything.”
“I think it’s important to be proactive, to get in front of this, to be prepared and have the resources aligned if we need them,” said Truckee council member David Tirman.
Truckee has not been immune to the travel impacts the virus has had.
“While this decision is being considered, Visit Truckee is hearing about group cancellations, event cancellations and cancellations from travellers who do not want to fly,” Colleen Dalton, Visit Truckee’s director of tourism and economic programs, told the council at its Tuesday meeting.
Dalton expressed concern over the impacts the declaration would have on tourism. She said one medium-sized hotel in Truckee is projecting $100,000 in losses this month.
Though the flight market has taken a huge hit, Dalton said they still have a strong drive market, or tourists from the Bay Area and Nevada. Moving forward they’ll be amplifying their “wellness campaign” to attract those who may be feeling anxious about the virus in bigger cities.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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