EUGENE, Ore. -- Church leaders throughout Lane County have requested a state of emergency declaration from the Lane County Board of Commissioners.
The board told the church leaders that the state of emergency will not be declared until there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in Lane County.
Reverend Jessica Connor, of First United Methodist Church in Eugene, said declaring a state of emergency would give nonprofits, such as her church, the ability to buy supplies for the homeless, a population that she said is unable to protect themselves from the virus.
"The top three ways in which you prevent the virus from infecting people is you wash hands, you stay in your home, and you cough into your sleeve when you're outside. What's difficult is people who are unhoused only have access to one of those three things," Connor said.
Reverend Adam Biddell said Lane County needs to act as soon as possible to combat COVID-19.
"We know this is coming, so we should take advantage of that and declare a state of emergency sooner rather than later," Rev. Biddell said.
"It's going to take a preventative state of emergency to truly address the problem of making sure our most vulnerable populations stay safe, and we know in public health you're only as safe as your most vulnerable people," said Connor.