Governor Kate Brown today announced new details of her framework for rebuilding a safe and strong Oregon, including new guidance for counties and businesses on the phased reopening process. The guidance is the product of a robust engagement process with stakeholders, doctors, health experts, business owners, and local officials to chart a path forward while keeping Oregonians healthy and safe.
“Today, thanks to millions of Oregonians following the strict physical distancing orders I put in place, I am happy to say these sacrifices have prevented as many as 70,000 COVID-19 infections, and 1,500 hospitalizations in Oregon,” said Governor Brown. “We are on track in meeting the goals that doctors and public health experts have laid out for us. And that means we now have the opportunity to begin rebuilding a safe and strong Oregon.”
By following the Governor’s strict physical distancing guidelines over the past several weeks, Oregonians have successfully flattened the curve of COVID-19 cases. There are now fewer than 100 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state, and Oregon has established plans for increasing testing capacity, expanding contact tracing capability, and building reserves of personal protective equipment.
Governor Brown emphasized that by taking steps gradually and carefully, and following science and data, Oregon can begin to reopen safely.
“But let me be very clear: these choices are not easy; as we reopen parts of our economy, we know and expect that there may be an uptick in new coronavirus cases,” said Governor Brown. “That’s why we have to be prepared in every single corner of the state, because as we’ve seen, an outbreak can occur anywhere.”
On May 1, Governor Brown lifted her order delaying non-urgent medical procedures, with safeguards in place for health care workers and patients. On May 5, Governor Brown announced the limited reopening of some outdoor parks and recreation areas. Next week, updated safety guidelines regarding transit, certain child care, summer school, and summer camps and youth programs will be issued. Each step of reopening is contingent on Oregonians following the safety guidelines for each sector.
Governor Brown’s new guidance on reopening calls for the widespread use of face coverings, maintaining physical distance of six feet between individuals as much as possible, and following good hygiene and disinfection practices.
Phase I Details
In addition, some counties will be eligible to begin the limited reopening of additional business sectors beginning as early as May 15 if they have demonstrated they have met all prerequisites for reopening. Oregon counties can begin submitting applications on Friday, May 8. Counties must:
- Show a decline in COVID-19 or have fewer than 5 hospitalizations
- Have sufficient COVID-19 testing and contact tracing capability
- Establish plans for the isolation and quarantine of new cases
- Have the hospital capacity to handle any surge in COVID-19 cases
- Have enough personal protective equipment for health care workers
Counties that meet all of the above criteria will be eligible to enter Phase I of reopening on May 15, pending approval of their application by the Governor after recommendations from the Oregon Health Authority.
In Phase I, counties can begin the limited reopening of the following sectors under specific safety guidelines:
- Restaurants and bars for sit-down service
- Personal care and services businesses, including barbers and salons
- In-person gatherings of up to 25 people
Counties must remain in Phase I for at least 21 days before becoming eligible to advance to Phase II. If counties begin to see significant increases in COVID-19 cases or community spread, the Oregon Health Authority will work with local public health officials to evaluate what actions should be taken. Significant growth in COVID-19 spread could necessitate a county moving back from Phase I to a stay-home status. More details on Phases II and III are forthcoming.
The Governor also announced that large gatherings such as conventions, festivals, and major concerts and live audience sporting events will need to be cancelled at least through September. Restarting events of this size will require a reliable treatment or prevention, like a vaccine, which is many months off. Further guidance on large events will be provided in the coming months.