Klamath Falls, OR. — February 10, 2021. With the help of grant funding from Oregon Health Authority, Healthy Klamath is continuing to support the community in 2021. The local coalition recently received 3,000 reusable face masks in adult and youth sizes, which it has begun to share with individuals and organizations. In addition to these face masks, Healthy Klamath has been a conduit of resources since the onset of the pandemic. The navy blue face masks are 3-layer, with an antimicrobial interlayer, and are machine washable.

“When face masks were not commercially available, we helped support local sewists, by receiving and distributing the thousands of hand-made, donated masks that local crafters were assembling. Then, we were able to share KN95 masks that were provided by our County Commissioners. Now, we’re able to help replace masks that may be worn out, or provide a reusable option in place of disposable masks,” says Merritt Driscoll, Executive Director of Blue Zones Project and Co-chair of the Healthy Klamath Coalition.

Recently, Klamath Basin Senior Citizens’ Center received 700 face masks from Healthy Klamath to distribute with their Meals on Wheels and food box program. In January 2021, the Senior Center provided over 6,000 meals through their Meals on Wheels program, and provides on average 150 food boxes each month. Older adults – a group that is at an increased risk of having severe health outcomes if they contract COVID-19, are a particularly vulnerable population during this time. Healthy Klamath has partnered closely with the organization in the past, and was sure to reach out when they heard that homebound seniors might not have masks available, or may not understand that they need to wear a mask even when answering their door.

Marc Kane, Executive Director for the Klamath Basin Senior Citizens’ Center stated that, “…it’s not without the extraordinary help for its partners that the senior center has been able to serve so many additional Meals-On-Wheels during the pandemic and been able to lunch a robust curbside pickup food box program to replace the temporarily suspended congregate meal at the center. Special thanks to the Klamath County Food Bank for additional food supplies, Klamath Hospice for new volunteers, Klamath Lake Counties Council On Aging for additional funding and our many other volunteer that made this program the success that it is.” He also expressed thanks to the many individuals that have come forward making donations to help offset the serious loss of income that the senior center experiences while most fund raising activities are suspended.

With vaccination efforts underway in the community, there is sunlight on the horizon, and the end of the pandemic feels within reach. While people across the community are excited and hopeful for life to return to normal, medical and public health officials are cautioning people to continue to follow the best practices that have been encouraged. Even those who receive the vaccine are asked to continue to wear a mask over their mouth and nose, stay home when ill, wash their hands often, and avoid large gatherings.

“With the current weekly distribution of vaccine available in the county, it will be into May before everyone 65 and older can be vaccinated,” said Jennifer Little, director of Klamath County Public Health. “We must work together to continue reducing risk, while we await more vaccination opportunities. At the moment, only those 80 and older are eligible for vaccine in our senior population. Next week those 75 and older become eligible. Those 75 and older total 5,000 in the county. It will take about five weeks to serve them. That is what makes this generous donation so important. We cannot abandon the practices we know work.”

Those who are seeking answers to questions about the vaccine are encouraged to visit Klamath County Public Health’s website at http://www.klamathcounty.org/1117/COVID-19-vaccine or the Center for Disease Controls vaccine information page at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/vaccines/index.html. Information is updated frequently as more information becomes available. If you are interested in getting involved in the Healthy Klamath Coalition or learning more about ongoing health and wellness initiatives in our community are encouraged to reach out via email to info@healthyklamath.org or visit www.healthyklamath.org. If you or your organization are interested in receiving a quantity of Healthy Klamath’s face masks, please reach out via email to BlueZonesProject@healthyklamath.org.


Marc Kane, Exec Director at Senior Center Stands with Donated Masks and Food Boxes