PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Thirty-one Oregon counties can begin to reopen on Friday, Gov. Kate Brown announced Thursday as the state starts to enter into Phase 1 of her reopening approach.
Phase 1 will begin on Friday, May 15 under Brown’s framework. The governor previously said rural counties with very few COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations could start applying to reopen their businesses.
According to the state’s website, 33 counties — not all rural — submitted these applications; 28 of those counties were approved by Thursday morning. Three others were approved later Thursday afternoon. Those counties can gradually reopen most bars, restaurants and gyms with proper safety precautions on Friday.
Counties approved for reopening under Phase I
- Baker County
- Benton County
- Clatsop County
- Columbia County
- Coos County
- Crook County
- Curry County
- Deschutes County
- Douglas County
- Gilliam County
- Grant County
- Harney County
- Hood River County
- Jackson County
- Josephine County
- Klamath County
- Lake County
- Lane County
- Lincoln County
- Linn County
- Malheur County
- Sherman County
- Tillamook County
- Union County
- Wallowa County
- Wasco County
- Wheeler County
- Yamhill County
- Jefferson County
- Morrow County
- Umatilla County
Counties not approved for reopening
- Marion County
- Polk County
Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah County did not apply to reopen at this time.
Any stand-alone retail store can reopen on Friday as well, regardless of whether their county is approved to enter Phase 1 as long as they meet certain criteria and adhere to guidelines.
The state is lifting the retail ban starting Friday — as long as retailers aren’t in a mall and they follow the new COVID-19 health guidelines. Those safety measures include employees wearing face masks, limiting the number of customers, enforcing physical distancing and frequently sanitizing high traffic areas.
That means standalone furniture stores, art galleries, jewelry shops and boutiques that were closed by executive order weeks ago can reopen. But, stores in outdoor- and indoor-shopping centers are an exception. They will need to open on a county-by-county basis.
In the press conference, Brown was joined by Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen and State Epidemiologist Dean Sideliner who both urged Oregonians to continue practicing proper social distancing and to wear face coverings.
Director Pat Allen called the effort towards reopening a team sport.
“Moving onto phase two depends on all of us protecting each other, our families and ourselves,” said Allen. “We will continue to monitor every county’s trends each week. COVID-19 ins’t going away any time soon. To keep Oregon safe and strong, we need to stay vigilant and continue to work together to suppress the virus in our state. We’ve done it so far. We continue to do it as we take the next cautious steps to a safe, phased reopening.”
Governor Brown also implored Oregonians to stay put and resist the urge to drive to other counties during this time.
“We are asking folks in the metro area to be thoughtful of their fellow Oregonians and to stay home and to limit their travel to essential needs,” said Brown. “I know this is hard — but we obviously don’t want to overwhelm the rest of Oregon by traveling outside the metro area.”
Gov. Brown said a new executive order over will be issued in the near future that lays out new stay-at-home guidelines as different counties open up.
According to Brown and health officials, contact tracing is ramping up throughout the state as well.
“If you are diagnosed with coronavirus, a state or local contact tracer will contact you for information about people you’ve been near and who may have been exposed to the virus. Tell them,” said Allen. “If a state or local contact tracer calls to tell you that you been close to someone who has become ill, follow their advice. Be ready to isolate yourself up to 14 days to protect the people around you.
“Until we have an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, contact tracing and isolating are the only tools we have to suppress the disease in Oregon without returning to business shut downs and other extreme tools. These tools can work — but only if more than 9 out of 10 people who are identified by contact tracers abide by their guidance to keep others safe.”
Phase 1 Guidelines
Once a county remains in Phase 1 for three weeks, they can potentially move on to Phase 2.
However, if a county shows an inability to meet contact tracing requirements, shows evidence of increasing prevalence of COVID-19 or evidence of increasing burden of severe COVID-19 as measured by new COVID-19 hospital admissions over seven days — OHA will call a meeting with local public health officials for further evaluation.
So far, more than 3,416 Oregonians have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of 134 residents across the state. The majority of cases are centered in Multnomah, Marion, Washington and Clackamas counties.
KOIN 6 News will update this story throughout the day.
Follow KOIN 6 for the latest news and weather