PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Gov. Kate Brown has officially extended Oregon’s state of emergency due to coronavirus concerns once again.
She said the extension lasts until Nov. 3, an additional 60 days. She will reevaluate then and consider another extension. The extension through September was declared back in June.
“When I last extended the COVID-19 state of emergency in June, I told Oregonians that we were at a crossroads: we could work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon, or we could watch infections and hospitalizations spike,” Brown said in a statement. “Now, six months after this crisis began, we have made progress. Together, we have slowed the spread of this disease. Oregon has one of the lowest mortality rates in the country. But, as students across Oregon begin a school year far different than any other before, it is clear that, at current COVID-19 levels, it will not be safe in much of the state for children to return to in-classroom instruction for months to come.”
Another factor involved in the extension is the upcoming holiday weekend. Health officers are wary that Labor Day celebrations could lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases, which we’ve seen play out after other holiday weekends such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
“This Labor Day weekend is another critical moment in this crisis,” Brown said. “We can work together to stay safe and put Oregon on the path to return more students to classrooms. Or, we could see Labor Day celebrations unknowingly sow the seeds of COVID-19 outbreaks that could set us back for months. Until there is an effective vaccine for COVID-19, this disease can spread like wildfire if we let our guard down.”
According to Multnomah County health officials, there was a 50% spike in the number of COVID-19 tests preformed following memorial day weekend. That resulted in a 40% spike in the positivity rate of those tests — leading to a 240% increase in cases and hospitalizations.
After July 4, the number of COVID-19 tests increased by 25%, with 40% coming back positive. That prompted a 58% increase in cases and hospitalizations.
“What that tells us is that it’s not just about having more tests,” Multnomah County Public Health Director Rachel Banks said. “That hospitalization rate shows regardless of if folks are tested or not, the symptoms are severe enough to land them in the hospital.”
Governor Brown said this is a critical turning point as the school year for many children is beginning to start.
“We can work together to stay safe and put Oregon on the path to return more students to classrooms. Or, we could see Labor Day celebrations unknowingly sow the seeds of COVID-19 outbreaks that could set us back for months. Until there is an effective vaccine for COVID-19, this disease can spread like wildfire if we let our guard down.”
To date, Oregon has logged 465 deaths stemming from COVID-19 and 26,946 total cases.