Brown warns ‘roughest days of pandemic’ are ahead

Coronavirus

1,122 COVID cases reported statewide Thursday

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a new ‘two-week freeze’ statewide on Friday, hours after announcing a new West Coast travel advisory.

“We’re about to face what might be the roughest days of the pandemic,” Brown said, as the daily case count in the state continues to top 1,000.

“This is likely the most dangerous time in Oregon,” the state’s epidemiologist, Dr. Dean Sidelinger, said. “We can’t pretend COVID-19 is going away on its own.”

Sidelinger and other health officials have continued to warn that hospitals will soon reach capacity if the virus spread is not curbed. The number of available ICU beds is dwindling around the state as more virus patients are hospitalized.

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems released a statement in support of the new freeze, saying “it is imperative that we act now to preserve hospital capacity.”

“Hospitals face dark days ahead,” Governor Brown said. “This is a collective call for sacrifice.”

The freeze will begin next Wednesday, November 18 and will be in effect through December 2. However, it will last longer than two weeks in ‘hotspots’ such as Multnomah County, where it will last at least four weeks.

The New York Times reports Oregon’s partial lockdown is one of the most sweeping in the nation.

The freeze measures include:

· Limiting social get-togethers (indoors and outdoors) to no more than six people, total, from no more than two households.
· Limiting faith based organizations to a maximum of 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors.
· Limiting restaurants and bars to take-out only.
· Closing gyms and fitness organizations.
· Closing indoor recreational facilities, museums, indoor entertainment activities, and indoor pools and sports courts.
· Closing outdoor recreational facilities, zoos, gardens, aquariums, outdoor entertainment activities, and outdoor pools.
· Limiting grocery stores and pharmacies to a maximum of 75% capacity and encouraging curbside pick-up.
· Limiting retail stores and retail malls (indoor and outdoor) to a maximum of 75% capacity and encouraging curbside pick-up.
· Closing venues (that host or facilitate indoor or outdoor events).
· Requiring all businesses to mandate work-from-home to the greatest extent possible and closing offices to the public.
· Prohibiting indoor visiting in long-term care facilities.

The freeze does not affect current protocols for personal services like barbershops, hair salons or non-medical massage therapy. It also does not change protocol for homeless sheltering, outdoor recreation and sports, youth programs, childcare, K-12 schools, K-12 sports currently allowed, current Division 1 and professional athletics exemptions and higher education. All will continue to follow previous guidelines from the Oregon Health Authority.

Brown said the measures are enforceable by law.

“I have directed the Oregon Superintendent of Police to begin working with local law enforcement…as before, as always, these are enforceable by law,” Brown said.

Portland reaction

In a statement released shortly after the governor announced the new restrictions, Mayor Ted Wheeler said the 4-week freeze in Multnomah County “is a necessary step to reverse the course of this pandemic.”

“Many Portlanders have made major sacrifices during this pandemic. This freeze, while challenging, will help ensure fewer sacrifices down the road and a strong recovery. And, most importantly, this freeze will save lives,” he said.

West Coast travel advisory

The new travel advisory was announced in coordination with Washington and California, recommending 14-day quarantines for all inter-state and international travel, along with asking residents to stay local.

“COVID-19 does not stop at state lines,” Brown said. “As hospitals across the West are stretched to capacity, we must take steps to ensure travelers are not bringing this disease home with them. If you do not need to travel, you shouldn’t. This will be hard, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner. But the best way to keep your family safe is to stay close to home.”

The states’ advisory also urges individuals to keep their interactions limited to their households.

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