Tri-county reopening placed on pause amid COVID-19 spike

Coronavirus

Portland area not currently meeting required criteria for Phase 2

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties will not be progressing to the next phase of reopening this Friday, according to officials.

Although Friday will mark the required 21-day period since entering Phase 1 of Governor Brown’s reopening plan, Multnomah County health officials have confirmed that the tri-county area is simply not ready for Phase 2. In fact, the counties may not be ready to move on for several weeks — especially considering officials are now awaiting data from the holiday weekend.

The Portland area is not currently meeting the criteria required of Phase 2. After sitting in Phase 1 for the last three weeks, the counties have seen a significant spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases. The spike has come despite a large number of people adhering to social distancing guidelines and mandates.

Governor Brown linked the three counties together back in mid-June once she gave Multnomah County the green light for Phase 1, saying the three counties together will eventually become eligible for Phase 2.

Oregon Health Authority COVID-19 updates

“I know this impacts communities and businesses in Clackamas and Washington counties,” Brown said on June 19. “But, as we reopen our state, we must recognize how interconnected the metro area is.”

On Tuesday, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury told the Oregonian that she is concerned with how people are becoming too relaxed.

“I’m worried folks are a little too focused on getting to the next phase and think everything will be okay then,” she said. “Until we have a vaccine, everything is not going to be okay.”

Multnomah County officials released a statement on the reopening pause. In it, the county insisted that when the tri-county area does move forward, they want to ensure it is not a step backward.

“We want to move cautiously toward reopening to avoid taking one step forward only to be forced to take two steps back,” the statement said. “Phase 2 is a big step toward business as usual, and the virus is not sufficiently contained to allow us to take that step. Slow and steady will win this race.”

Multnomah County said contact tracing of positive cases has been ramped up along with outreach to affected communities. They also stressed the county is helping those infected in order for them to isolate until recovered.

“We are all connected and our individual actions can make the difference for everyone,” the statement read. “Until it’s clear the virus is better controlled we’re asking people to continue to work to slow the spread.”

As always, the health officials urge individuals to continue social distancing, wear a face mask and to keep your social bubble small.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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