After serving a customer at the Saturday Umpqua Valley Farmer’s Market in Roseburg, Missy Kroeker poured some hand sanitizer on her hands and rubbed them together.
Standing in front of a large Norm Lehne Garden & Orchards banner, Kroeker reached for some nearby sanitary wipes to wipe down the top of a weighing scale and nearby counter.
Welcome to a part of the new normal — at least for now — for Douglas County residents, thanks to what is now considered a worldwide pandemic of the novel coronavirus.
As of Saturday, Oregon has a total of 36 people diagnosed with COVID-19 with one presumptive positive case in Douglas County. A Multnomah County man became the first Oregon fatality of COVID-19 on Saturday.
On the first weekend with schools shut down for at least the next two weeks, along with public gathering restrictions imposed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, signs of life were visible at the farmers market in Roseburg on Saturday.
“We’re wiping down our common use areas, our scales, we clean our surfaces that are routinely touched with sanitation wipes,” said Glen Lehne of Norm Lehne Garden & Orchards, which sells vegetables that are grown year round. “It’s been a really positive reaction, people thanking us for coming out.”
A number of vendors say business has actually gotten better since the outbreak.
“We’ve seen fewer people but the people that are showing up are definitely spending money with the local businesses,” said Misty Jellison of Ranch Suds in Winston. “Everybody’s talking about it (the virus) but since I sell hand soaps, washing your hands is the very best way to get rid of it.”
Vendors have instituted safety measures to lessen the chances of spreading the coronavirus or any other communicable disease.
Amanda Pastoria, market manager for the Umpqua Valley Farmer’s Market, said everybody involved has done everything they can to make the market as safe as possible for vendors and customers.
“We added an extra hand washing station, we’re really controlling samples, I handle all of the samples,” Pastoria said. “I wash my hands before I serve, I do gloves and I’m just monitoring what the health authorities say.”
Two days earlier before all school activities were banned by executive order, Bobbi Garrison and her husband Chris Garrison watched their daughter, Roseburg junior Regina Garrison, play in a team scrimmage at Stewart Park softball field. As they stood in a nearby grassy area with their 11-week-old white German Shepherd Freyja, they discussed the possibility that this might be the last softball game for the Roseburg Indians for the next few weeks.
“We’re just hoping girls softball doesn’t get canceled,” Bobbi Garrison said.
Over at nearby Bill Gray Legion Stadium at Champion Car Wash Field, Roseburg coach Troy Thompson and assistant coach Richie Charles sat in the dark corner of the dugout with a few Roseburg baseball players.
“We’re over here licking our wounds,” Charles said.
After looking forward to beginning baseball season this week, players will have to wait before competing for the first time on the stadium’s new artificial turf.
“Obviously with the new turf, we kind of want to play with the new toy,” Charles said.
Darla Walker of Tenmile said she recently went to a store and saw several people wearing masks. She didn’t wear one herself. She hasn’t been stocking up on anything either. While she’s concerned about coronavirus, she said the way that local, state and federal leaders are handling the situation feels like overkill.
Walker isn’t sure how much anybody can prepare for something like the coronavirus.
“I mean, you can not go out of your house and you can use hand sanitizer and you can wear a mask, and how do you know if UPS delivers something and there it is, you know?” she said.
Ramona Mitchell of Azalea said she and her husband Randy Mitchell have been very cautious about viruses since 2018, when he had bypass surgery. Since the news started coming out about the coronavirus, they’ve been washing their hands a lot more, she said.
They’re retired, live in a small community and stay home most of the time, so it’s not too hard for them to practice the kind of social distancing public health officials are recommending.
Ramona Mitchell worked as a supervisor at the Seven Feathers Casino Resort for more than 20 years. She said in the wintertime she always used to get sick with the flu because there’s just so many people coming in and out all the time. Recently she hasn’t visited there at all.
“That’s way too many people,” she said.
Abby Broughton of Roseburg said he’s not really been affected by the coronavirus outbreak, but he thinks the government is doing what it can to combat the spread.
“Seems to me like we’ve got a virus-like we’ve had in the past and we’ve had so much news coverage on it, they kinda got everybody worried about it,” Broughton said. “And rightfully so, nobody wants to die of a virus. I think they’re doing all they can with what’s going on at this point.”
Back at the Saturday farmer’s market, Steven Checkman paid for his purchases at the Norm Lehne Farms and prepared to leave.
Checkman said he did not fear the coronavirus outbreak.
“I don’t go about my life living in fear from the beginning,” Checkman said.
As long as it is safe, Pastoria said the goal is to keep the farmer’s open. Next Saturday, market organizers are considering going back outside to get open-air and shoppers can either walk through, go to a drive up or order online.
“Come back Saturday,” Kroeker and Lehne told customers.