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Health officials concerned about cold temperatures and urge people to stay inside

Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said her biggest piece of advice is to stay inside during the blast of cold air.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Cold weather shelters across the Portland metro opened Wednesday as cold air and ice rolled into the area. Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said she's concerned about cold temperatures.

"I'm feeling today how I felt during the days leading up to the 2021 heat dome where again we had temperatures a full twenty degrees different than what most people have experienced in this region," Vines said. 

Vines said she's worried about the houseless community and people that might be caught by surprise in the cold.

"The real risk is frostbite to the nose, cheeks, toes and fingers and the risk of Hypothermia where the cold just overtakes your body's ability to maintain a warm temperature," Vines said. 

The cold weathers shelters are equipped with anything from beds, sheets, hand warmers and food. Vines said she has concerns about carbon monoxide poising as well with people using alternative ways to heat their homes. Her main piece of advice is for people to stay inside. 

Director of Emergency Management for Multnomah County Chris Voss said nobody will be turned away from the shelters and they're prepared to open more. 

"Initially we are opening up to 320 beds to start with and that will be alright for the first day or two. It could be a situation where we need to open more space," Voss said.

Washington County will also be opening shelters. Housing Communications Coordinator Emily Roots said there are more than 300 beds available at the Salvation Army building in Hillsboro and Beaverton Community Center

"Either location folks can walk up to," Roots said. "They are accessible by public transportation. We just encourage folks to keep inside."

The Oregon Convention Center, Portsmouth Union, Arbor Lodge, the Sunrise Center and the gym inside Reynolds High School will serve as shelters in Multnomah County.

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