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'Quite a bit of a drop off': Businesses along Oregon Coast hurting during coronavirus pandemic

Over 300 reservations at The Wave Motel in Cannon Beach have been canceled since March 1.

CANNON BEACH, Oregon — There are hundreds of public beaches along the Oregon Coast and they are a popular spot to visit during spring break. Businesses and hotels rely on the thousands of tourists every year for business.

Greg Swedenborg, president of the board of directors for the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce, says all businesses are hurting in the small coastal town, which is nearly 80 miles west of Portland. Some restaurants are delivery or take-out only while others have closed all together.

Swedenborg is also the owner of the Waves Motel in Cannon Beach. He says reservations have dropped drastically since Gov. Kate Brown ordered all schools to close through April 28.

"If I had to put a number to it, it's probably in the 60+% cancellations over the next 90 days," he said.

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The Waves has 60 rooms. Before schools closed, he was completely booked.

"We've had 315 cancellations since March 1, average of about 3 nights per stay. So, that's 900 room nights canceled and most of it's through the beginning of May," Swedenborg explained.

In Pacific City, owner Robyn Barcroft has owned the Grateful Bread Bakery for the last 29 years.

"I'm seeing quite a bit of a drop off. We're a full-on bakery and restaurant and since we can't open our restaurant, my bakery sales are way up, but we're not doing a lot of food sales," Barcroft said.

She says going into Oregon's spring break, which would have started Saturday under normal circumstances, she would have expected to see business levels pick up quite a bit.

"We're seeing a lot of people traveling around, they're just not able to stop and come inside." Barcroft said.

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Emergency managers have heard the concerns of more people coming to the beach even after multiple reports of maintaining social distancing and adding to the situation.

"We encourage any body who is not feeling well to stay home and to not spread this virus," said Cannon Beach emergency manager Rick Hudson. "Social distancing has to be respected as well as personal responsibility to make decisions to not be a part of the problem. Our community is paying attention to this crisis and we will respond with the state and the county."

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Should there be a rise in cases, hospitals like Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital in Lincoln City say they prepare for this. Lesley Ogden, CEO of Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital and Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport, says her hospitals have built-in surge plans for the annual spike in tourism every spring and summer.

Samaritan North Lincoln has four ICU beds and Newport has five, with the ability to convert a sixth. 

"We have surge plans that we can use our entire hospital to basically become functional parts of our emergency department and/or functional parts of our in-patient units, so that we can expand," Ogden said.

In a state of emergency, which Oregon is in right now, Ogden says the two hospitals have the ability adapt and use every bed in the hospitals if need be.

"We would adapt our other rooms to be those levels of care that we needed them to be," Ogden said.

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