Dear friends and neighbors,During a year that has been challenging in so many ways, I know that most of us are looking for some semblance of certainty and familiarity, especially as we head into the coldest, darkest and wettest time of the year. 

Unfortunately, the continued surge in cases that we are experiencing in Multnomah County, as well as across the state and country, means that our winter needs to look different than those of past years. Starting this Thursday, Dec. 3, the County will move into the “Extreme Risk” category of the governor’s new COVID-19 health and safety framework in order to align with the rest of the Metro area; we will also adopt the state’s criteria for restrictions.

This shift introduces new metrics, but it doesn’t change the ways in which we can show a little love to each other to help our community endure the tough weeks ahead, even when we’re apart. We can adapt our winter traditions — like we’ve adapted all year long — and still find new ways to enjoy the season while continuing to follow the public health guidance that saves lives. And while it certainly appears that safe and effective vaccines are on the horizon, we need to keep taking the actions we know can help slow the spread of the virus, protect the essential workers in our community and avoid overwhelming our hospital systems. 

That starts with keeping each other safe by staying home as much as possible and limiting your outings to essential tasks. When you do have to leave home, please avoid the “three Cs”:

  • Crowded spaces where you are around many people
  • Close contact settings where people take off their masks and have close conversations.
  • Confined space, which means any enclosed area with poor ventilation.

And remain vigilant about wearing a face covering, maintaining safe distance, practicing good hygiene and opening windows often to improve air flow.

Secondly, if you plan on buying holiday gifts, you can show a little love by safely shopping locally. Many local businesses have transitioned to providing online shopping, delivery and curbside pick up. By shopping locally and finding ways to avoid shopping in-store, you can support your community and the small businesses that make Multnomah County a great place to live while keeping yourself, your family and your community safe. 

Where you spend your money matters. The holiday season could be a lifeline for many Portland-area businesses who need your support more than ever this year. If you are in a position to shop this year, I encourage you to keep your dollars within our community as much as you can. Make a list of your favorite establishments and find ways to support them: a pie from your favorite bakery, coffee beans from your neighborhood cafe, gifts from local boutiques and gift cards to restaurants you love. This year, I’m pledging to shop locally and to stay safe while doing so, and I hope you do, too.

We also know that many individuals and families have been deeply impacted by the pandemic, both in terms of health and financial well-being. It’s heartbreaking, and especially so in the midst of the holiday season. So the third way that we can show a little love is by supporting our neighbors in need.

If you need ideas for which organizations you can support, the Willamette Week Give!Guide brings together nearly 200 nonprofits providing critical services to our community under one virtual roof; you can even receive incentives for making a contribution. If you want to meet people’s immediate cold weather needs, you may want to consider donating winter gear or signing up to volunteer at a severe weather shelter site.

To help you explore the many ways that we can show a little love to our neighbors and each other this holiday season, I’ve put together a new webpage, complete with links to directories of local businesses, resources for people staying at home and information about donating funds or items.

I love our community, and I know you do too. This winter, let’s all show a little love, even when we’re apart.

Please stay safe and stay healthy,

Deborah Kafoury
Multnomah County Chair

Grants for restaurants and food service businesses impacted by COVID-19

On Monday, Multnomah County announced the availability of grants to help restaurants, food carts and other food service businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 public health measures. Visit this link to learn more and to apply online before the Dec. 15 deadline.

While this relief will be helpful, I fully understand that it’s not enough to balance out the months of hardship endured by small businesses. Multnomah County will keep fighting at the state and federal levels for more aid to help our small businesses survive, recover and thrive again.