Oregon presses pause on pending reopening applications

Coronavirus

Gov. Brown called it a "yellow light" on the road to reopening

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Governor Kate Brown has issued a week-long, statewide “pause” on all pending applications for reopening, according to a Thursday evening announcement from her office.

Brown said the freeze comes after an increase in COVID-19 cases has been documented “in both rural and urban communities.” On Thursday, for the second time in less than a week, Oregon recorded its most-ever daily number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, the Oregon Health Authority reported.

This week, the governor’s office received four county applications for reopening, including Multnomah County’s. Hood River, Marion, and Polk Counties also applied to move into Phase 2 of reopening.

Multnomah County submitted their application last week and on Wednesday, met to go over data and progress, showing some improvement. However, there has been a recent spike in hospitalizations in Multnomah County, and over 40% of the new cases diagnosed have not been traced to a source, according to the OHA.

The governor’s announcement also cited outbreaks at workplaces in Hood River County, a rise in cases and one workplace outbreak in Polk County, and an almost 40% increase in cases and new hospitalizations in Marion County.

The freeze will hold counties in the current phase of reopening that they are in: Multnomah County is the only county still at a “baseline status,” six counties are in Phase 1, and 29 counties are in Phase 2.

Brown said the following in a written statement:

“When we began reopening nearly a month ago, I was clear that COVID-19 case counts would rise. We now see that happening in several parts of the state, both urban areas and rural communities.

“As I have said before, reopening comes with real risk. As we navigate the reopening, we are carefully monitoring the capacity of our public health system to respond to COVID-19 cases without becoming overwhelmed.

“The noticeable increase in COVID-19 infections in Oregon over the past week is cause for concern.

“In order to ensure that the virus is not spreading too quickly, I am putting all county applications for further reopening on hold for seven days. This is essentially a statewide ‘yellow light.’ It is time to press pause for one week before any further reopening.

“This one week pause will give public health experts time to assess what factors are driving the spread of the virus and determine if we need to adjust our approach to reopening. I will work with doctors and public health experts to determine whether to lift this pause or extend it or make other adjustments.”

This is a developing story.

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