PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “Today, Oregon, you have a choice,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown during a press conference Wednesday. “A choice that only you can make. What happens next is up to you. It’s up to each of us.”
The remarks came ahead of outlining the status of the state’s COVID-19 response. Brown began her speech by asking citizens of Oregon to wager the risk of more infections.
“Do we wear face coverings?” Brown asked. “Keep a physical distance? And, avoid large gatherings? Do we protect ourselves, our families, our grandparents? Or, do we pretend that this virus is in hiding, lurking among us? Do we somehow pretend that we’re immune because we’ve not gotten sick so far? Do pretend that it’s no longer a physical killer?”
On Wednesday, Oregon’s new mask mandate went into effect following Tuesday’s report that the state has logged 8,600 cases of COVID-19 and 207 people have died from the virus.
OHA reported the largest number of new COVID-19 cases to date in Oregon Wednesday with 281. Additionally, another death was added to the death toll putting the state’s total casualties from the coronavirus at 208.
The Oregon Health Authority’s Dr. Dean Sidelinger was at Wednesday’s briefing and said Oregon is on track to hit a worst case scenario model, with daily COVID-19 infections hitting 900 per day.
“We’ve experienced five straight weeks of growth within the state,” he said of the virus. “COVID cases have increased 20% in the last two weeks alone.”
Asked at the end of the press conference if it’s safe for schools to plan for reopening in the fall, Brown said, “Your actions will determine whether we can open schools in the fall.”
People who have underlying health conditions, have a disability or are under the age of 12 are exempt from the mask mandate.
“Over the last month, we have seen the disease spread at an alarming rate in both urban and rural counties. The upcoming July 4th holiday weekend is a critical point for Oregon in this pandemic, and we can all make a difference,” the governor said in a statement. “Modeling from the Oregon Health Authority shows that if we don’t take further action to reduce the spread of the disease, our hospitals could be overwhelmed by new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations within weeks.”
Brown will also discuss State of Emergency, which she extended on Tuesday due to the pandemic.
She said the extension lasts until September 4, an additional 60 days. She will reevaluate then and consider another extension. She originally declared a state of Emergency on February 7.
“Now, we again find ourselves at a crossroads as a state. The individual choices each of us makes will decide whether Oregon either flattens the curve of new COVID-19 infections, or sees a devastating spike in cases that overwhelms our hospital capacity in the next month,” she said in a press release.