PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In a long-awaited announcement amid ongoing “stay at home” orders, Gov. Kate Brown laid out steps needed to reopen Oregon’s economy following the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday.
After forming a pact on Monday with fellow West Coast governors Jay Inslee and Gavin Newsom to work on reopening their economies together, Brown said Oregonians will have to be cautious as the state takes its next steps or else it could backfire as she announced the multiple points of action needed to move forward.
The critical steps the state will take to reopen the economy include slowing the growth of the novel coronavirus pandemic; obtaining more personal protection equipment for Oregonians on the front line of the disease; increasing the state’s testing capacity and contract tracing of the disease; and developing a quarantine and isolation program.
Gov. Brown’s entire press conference is at the bottom of this article
Brown stressed that her plan for reopening the state’s economy is a “framework” dependent on timing.
“As Dr. Anthony Fauci says, we don’t control the timing, the disease controls the timing,” she said, referencing the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ director. “We know that a vaccine or an effective treatment might be months away. If we move too quickly, we could see a spike in cases.”
She listed a variety of steps to get to the point of reopening the economy, including continuing social distancing and highlighted that additional personal protective equipment is still needed. She also discussed the need for more testing.
“We need to ramp up testing capacity in every region of the state. Increased testing helps us make sure that we make sure we can identify where the virus is in our communities, and stop it from spreading again,” she said. “This will take really strong partnerships between the private sector and the public sector.”
Furthermore, Brown said we need contact tracing system in place.
“We need to develop a robust system for contact tracing to identify those who may have been exposed to the virus and to stop further transmission,” she said. “OHA is working to develop a plan in partnership with county health departments and local health systems.”
The governor then described the need for implementing an effective quarantine and isolation program for people who test positive.
“It will need to include strategies for nursing home residents and address the needs of people experiencing houselessness, as well,” Brown said. “We need this in every region of the state.”
“It’s not going to be easy, and it will take longer than we want,” she said. “Like the rest of the world, we will be actively monitoring the availability of both treatments and vaccines that might affect the structure and the timeline. But for now, this is what we have and this is what we can do.”
Moving forward, Brown’s plan is to hold discussions with leaders across the state to discuss the plans further. They will also gather input from health care professionals, public health experts and industries that have been substantially impacted by the stay at home orders.
Oregon Health Authority’s Dr. Dean Sidelinger was also in attendance on Tuesday and said modeling shows surge of cases can be avoided if we continue social distancing through mid-May. However, like Brown, Sidelinger did not give any approximate dates for when Brown’s stay at home order could be lifted.
Although their respective state’s plans will not be exactly the same as Oregon’s, Inslee and Newsom are remaining cautious as well.
“I think that this pact is more forward-looking than backward-looking,” Inslee said on Monday. “This pact is what do we do after we reduce some of our social distancing, stay home initiatives. It is more the issue of how are we going to have consistent testing and contact tracing initiatives.”
The West Coast pact is similar to the one formed on the East Coast, which includes hard-hit New York. The states made their announcements on Monday just hours after President Trump tweeted that it was his decision when to “open up the states.”
California’s Newsom outlines his plan
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has revealed an outline for lifting coronavirus restrictions in the nation’s most populous state.
Newsom he wants to see hospitalization numbers flatten and decline before he begins rolling back stay-at-home orders. But he said things won’t look the same when the state reopens. He said waiters at restaurants will likely be wearing masks and gloves. And he said public schools could stagger the times when students arrive to maintain social distancing.
California has been under a statewide stay-at-home order since March 19. Since then, more than 2 million Californians have filed for unemployment benefits.
Watch: Gov. Kate Brown’s press conference on re-opening Oregon, April 14, 2020