PENDLETON – With COVID-19 vaccines beginning to reach people, health officials feel that while it will take time, the novel coronavirus numbers will drop. Umatilla County Board of Commissioners Chairman George Murdock believes the focus now should be how to economically recover.
The first area that comes to mind when he thinks of recovery are the county’s restaurants and bars.
“We have got to get people back to work,” he said. “I heard a chilling statistic that 60 percent of the restaurants that were open in June will be closed permanently in the very near future.”
Murdock and other local leaders point out that there have been no outbreaks of COVID-19 that are due to exposure in restaurants. He also considers it possible that because people can’t eat out they are eating together in groups in private homes which adds to the spread.
“We’d like to have a pilot program, actually, to where we could open the bars and the restaurants and just say, ‘Look, we’ve done it successfully,’” he said. “We’ve got statistics where they’ve done it in other states successfully.”