The Medford Police Department received several complaints on Monday regarding a public feeding that was held in Hawthorne Park over the weekend. Citizens voiced their concerns and displeasure that the service provider allowed a vulnerable population to gather in groups and did not follow social distancing rules.
“I understand why members of our community are upset about this. A lot of people are making great sacrifices to make social distancing a priority and when they see a feeding like the one that occurred on Saturday, it’s frustrating,” said Scott Clauson, Chief of Police. “I appreciate what the service organization is trying to do but it has to be done in a safe manner.”
Last Saturday’s feeding was a violation of the Governor’s Order, which is enforceable and can result in a Class C Misdemeanor criminal charge, and runs counter to the work other service organizations are doing to provide services in a safe way.
Local public health officials have strongly discouraged group settings and say it could increase the chance of COVID-19 spread. “If it were to enter this population, it would likely spread quickly and devastate the community,” said Tanya Phillips with Jackson County Public Health in a recent media release
about a new program developed to feed and care for homeless living along the Bear Creek Greenway.
“It is our duty to protect the lives and safeguard our community, therefore I am asking that these organizations stop these feedings to prevent groups from gathering.” said Chief Clauson. “Our sacrifices now, as a community, will limit putting residents at risk, save lives and prevent overloading our healthcare system. Thank you for doing your part.”
The City recently partnered with Jackson County and other community partners to provide coordinated feedings and sanitation services to members of the homeless community living along the Bear Creek Greenway. This initiative prevents gatherings and ensures our unhoused population is getting the services and the information they need.