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Oregon Puts A Pause On Reopening Plans

PORTLAND, Ore. — Any reopening plans for Oregon’s counties will have to wait at least a week.

Governor Kate Brown Friday said she made the decision to pause any reopening applications because of the increase of COVID-19 cases across the state:

Multnomah County applied to enter Phase 1 on June 5th, with the goal of starting June 12th.

However, those plans are also on hold until at least June 19th.

The Oregon Health Authority has listed a number of concerns:

  • Cases of COVID-19 are increasing across Oregon affecting both urban and rural areas. Hospitalizations are also beginning to increase in Oregon.
  • Multnomah County has seen an increase in residents admitted to the hospital over the last two weeks. The percent of tests that are positive is going up, in the face of increased testing. Over 40% of the new cases in the last week have not been traced to a source.
  • Hood River County has seen an increase in new cases over the last week and is managing several simultaneous workplace outbreaks.
  • Marion County has seen an almost 40% increase in cases over the last week and new hospital admissions COVID-19 for county residents has increased over the last two weeks.
  • Polk County has seen an increase in cases over the last week and is managing a work site outbreak.

Current status of reopening and all guidelines are available at coronavirus.oregon.gov. Currently there are:

  • Twenty-nine counties in Phase 2.
  • Three counties in Phase 1 that have applied for Phase 2 (Hood River, Marion, and Polk); these applications are being put on hold for one week.
  • Three counties in Phase 1 that have not yet applied for Phase 2 (Clackamas, Lincoln, andWashington)
  • Multnomah County is in baseline status. County leaders have applied for Phase 1, application is being put on hold
“This is essentially a statewide ‘yellow light.’ It is time to press pause for one week before any further reopening,” Brown said in a statement. “This one week pause will give public health experts time to assess what factors are driving the spread of the virus and determine if we need to adjust our approach to reopening. I will work with doctors and public health experts to determine whether to lift this pause or extend it or make other adjustments.”
The governor during a Friday morning news conference said county leaders are working extraordinarily hard to get Oregon reopened. But she said, “when it comes to the health and safety of Oregonians, the buck stops here.”
RELATED: Here’s the framework for Phase 2 of Oregon’s reopening plan
“We are all frustrated,” Brown said. “As Dr. Fauci said, ‘The virus makes the timeline. We don’t make the timeline.’
She said the state is continuing to rely on CDC guidance in the decision making, that there is no playbook for this situation, and that the regional work has been extremely helpful.
Oregon Health Authority Director Paul Allen said large workplace outbreaks are partly responsible for the jump in numbers, and it’s too early to tell whether protests have contributed to the total number of cases. The good news, he said, is that more testing is revealing more cases, and that includes finding more people who are asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic.
RELATED: Oregon Supreme Court vacates Baker County ruling: Stay-home order still in effect
When asked which specific criteria Multnomah County failed to meet, OHA epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said there has been an increase in hospitalizations over the last two weeks, there has been a rise in the positive test percentages in the past week, and more than 40% of the positive cases in the county have not yet been traced to a source.
“COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon,” Sidelinger said.
RELATED: Oregon reports 178 COVID-19 cases; new highest daily total of pandemic
There were 178 new COVID-19 cases reported in Oregon on Thursday, the most in a single day since the start of the pandemic. That daily total comes after more than 100 cases were reported on Sunday and Monday. At least least 70 coronavirus cases have been reported each of the last eight days. By contrast, between May 10 and June 3, there was only one day when at least 70 COVID-19 cases were reported.
The OHA has several areas of concerns, according to Gov. Brown’s office.
  • Cases of COVID-19 are increasing across Oregon affecting both urban and rural areas. Hospitalizations are also beginning to increase in Oregon.
  • Multnomah County has seen an increase in residents admitted to the hospital over the last two weeks. The percent of tests that are positive is going up, in the face of increased testing. Over 40% of the new cases in the last week have not been traced to a source.
  • Hood River County has seen an increase in new cases over the last week and is managing several simultaneous workplace outbreaks.
  • Marion County has seen an almost 40% increase in cases over the last week and new hospital admissions COVID-19 for county residents has increased over the last two weeks.
  • Polk County has seen an increase in cases over the last week and is managing a work site outbreak.
Gov. Brown urged Oregonians to practice recommended COVID-19 hygiene, including staying six feet apart from others, avoiding large gatherings, washing your hands, covering your cough, wearing a face covering and staying home when you’re sick.
Her guidance for travel: “Keep recreational activities local.”

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