PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Several counties in Oregon are making moves to reopen as they apply to enter Phase 1 one of Governor Kate Brown’s plan.
Governor Brown has said that rural counties with very few COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations can start applying to reopen their businesses by this Friday. According to the governor’s website, at least 20 counties have submitted theses applications — and that number is expected to grow.
If a county meets the prerequisites, then stores such as furniture stores and boutiques can reopen as long as they can follow the new OSHA guidelines like continued social distancing and sanitation along with wearing masks. There are several counties that feel like they’re ready to reopen this week, including Jefferson, Linn, Hood River, Tillamook, and Sherman.
Tillamook Emergency Manager Gordan McCraw said the county has only had six cases and zero deaths. However, if the governor gives the green light to reopen, it should not be mistaken as an open invitation for people to flock to the county.
“We want to continue not to have the positives here,” said McCraw. “What I’ve been telling my own folks is once we open, it’s actually on every individual here — and whoever comes to visit — to help keep the numbers low because if we start getting a spike here, or anywhere else, then they are going to roll back that Phase 1 and we will end up closing everything again. Just because you open doesn’t mean you can stay open.”
“Just because we are doing this Phase One initial opening process, it doesn’t change the rules that are set out by the governor that you are supposed to stay within your own communities — that hasn’t changed,” echoed Mike Oates, Chair of Hood River County.
Once a county remains in Phase 1 for at least 21 days, they can potentially move onto Phase 2, which would allow for higher risk activities such as expanding gathering sizes.
“It’s going to be quite a process to go through this and make sure we get the information out to the businesses on how to do it and still keep people safe,” said Oates.
However, if a county shows an inability to meet contact tracing requirements and shows an increase in spread of COVID and hospitalizations over the span of a week, the Oregon Health Authority will reevaluate their status.
“We want people to be safe, take it slow and we want to get it right,” said Oates.
KOIN 6 News be following the applications closely and let you know which counties are able to reopen by the end of this week.