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Willow Ponds residents use the proper “social distancing” gaps as they walk and work out together.

Emergency responses organized

The Joint Information Center of Hood River (EOC), supporting Hood River County Public Health, is coordinating public outreach for Hood River residents — representing a network of local partner agencies.

Last week, the Hood River Board of County Commissioners adopted an emergency declaration for the Coronavirus emergency response. Hood River City Council also adopted an emergency declaration for the COVID-19 emergency response, on March 19.

Hood River County activated the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) last week to support all of our local partner agencies, and community, amidst the current public health emergency.

Hood River County Emergency Management director Barb Ayers said agencies have created a web site for shared public information about COVID response in Hood River County at www.GetReadyGorge.com.

COVID  public information call-in lines (updated daily or as conditions change):

  • English — 541-399-8022
  • Spanish — 541-399-8023

Finding new ways to socialize

“Good morning and Happy St. Paddy’s Day!” Jaquie Barone of Hood River wrote.

“I had to send these pics I got this morning because it just made me smile in the time of high anxieties and all.

“This is from the ladies at Willow Ponds. Out walking together but with social distancing. Over the last few days, a couple of doctors sent an email around to all the homeowners in Willow Ponds and told us about isolation and ways to stay in contact and ways to avoid depression, etc,” Barone said.

The group email suggests ways to stay in touch: Share books and games, food and so much more, including doing some nightly group thing from their front porches.

“They are also realizing front porches must have been a design element for this very reason.

“And so this is just an example of a neighborhood of 25 homes coming together but not to close together to support each other in this time of craziness. Stay well and safe.

“I am comforted by the resilience and strength of human kind,” Barone said in an email. “When we created Willow Ponds it almost was more about fostering friendships then building houses and this thread of emails shows this. I don’t live in Willow Ponds but we often communicate via group email and work together on projects from planting natives etc. Actually we were planning a group bark mulching party this April. Not sure if that will happen yet.

“And we are lucky to have some doctors and nurses at the front lines too. Jon Soffer sent this initial email and I added below some of the strings of comments along the way from other neighbors in response to it. They are watching over each other and as this photo I got this morning are taking ’social distancing’ walks around the neighborhood. Some time today I’ll do a drive by ‘honk’ salute to all my great homeowners. I’m also dropping off a keyboard to one of the homes with a grand front porch where possibly some kids could be belting out some tunes for all to hear.

“I’m sure so much more is happening all over Hood River and it brings me comfort knowing our small town is rallying to keep our spirits high,” Barone said.

Paths to Resilience

Here are excerpts of advice from OHSU specialists, from the Willow Ponds email thread:

Experiencing high levels of stress, however, can be hard to sustain over long periods of time and can lead to greater emotional and physical exhaustion. Being able to use healthy coping strategies and tap into support at work and in the community can help protect our well-being during stressful times.

Resilience is defined typically as the ability to weather and “bounce back” from significant stressors and resume normal functioning over time. We like the definition of resilience as “emotional steadiness” — being present without becoming overly involved or emotionally detached in a stressful situation. This definition fits our strengths, what we offer as health professionals — to be engaged, caring and steady in critical patient care situations. The American Psychological Association outlines the key components of resilience and offers guidance on how to view COVID-19 media coverage. We would like to highlight these resilience-building strategies and resources that may help protect your well-being during this challenging time:

Self-awareness is the first step

Reflect on where you feel your stress in your body and what “bad habit” you engage in more when stressed (e.g., eating unhealthy, staying up late, drinking more).

Pause daily to notice signs of stress, and check in with your emotions.

If you notice your stress level is higher, take action to reduce your stress. Calm body, calm mind

Exercise daily — a quick walk, running the stairs or doing some core work can help reduce stress hormones and improve mood and focus.

Practice relaxation skills — breathing, mindful meditation or progressive muscle relaxation (tightening and then relaxing different parts of the body). Take at least a 10-minute break daily at work.

A home ritual

Develop a healthy ritual for when you return home for disconnecting from work and being more present for your family, friends, and yourself. You might consider:

  • “Parking your phone”
  • Changing clothes
  • Taking a hot shower
  • Going for a walk or exercising
  • Listening to music
  • Checking in with a partner, friend or family member
  • Prioritize basic self-care
  • Prioritize sleep (eight hours is recommended for most adults)
  • Stay hydrated, eat healthy and try not to skip meals
  • Notice any unhealthy use of substances or binge-eating in the face of stress
  • Take time off — before you become depleted

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