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Monday, March 8, 2021

Gov. Brown rolls out Oregon's detailed plan for reopening as counties push to enter Phase One on May

Credit: KDRV
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Gov. Brown rolls out Oregon's detailed plan for reopening as counties push to enter Phase One on May
Gov. Brown rolls out Oregon's detailed plan for reopening as counties push to enter Phase One on May

Officials say that the majority of Oregon counties should be able to enter Phase One on May 15.

Of a routine maintenance by news.

Governor kate brown is announcing new guidance for counties and businesses as part of her framework for safely reopening oregon.

We're joining that news conference happening right now as the governor and health officials layout that framework.

>> physical distancing measures i put in place, i am happy to say that these sacrifices have prevented as many as 70,000 covid-19 infections and 1,500 hospitalizations in the oregon.

We are on track in meeting the goals that doctors and public health experts have laid out for us.

That means we now have the opportunity to begin rebuilding a safe and strong oregon.

We have stabilized covid-19 hospitalizations statewide and in fact, we hit a record low this past week with fewer than 100 coronavirus hospitalizations across the state.

We are increasing and enhancing supply chains for personal protective equipment.

We still don't have everything we need, but things are definitely improving.

We have finalized our statewide testing and contact tracing strategy.

We're been ramping up those programs rapidly so that we can safely and quickly track, trace, and isolate new cases.

From the very onset of this crisis, i've said that data and science would inform my decision.

And science and data remain my guide post as we begin the reopening of oregon.

But let me be very clear.

These choices are not easy.

As we reopen parts of our economy, we know and expect that there may be an uptick in new coronavirus cases.

That's why we have to be prepared in every single corner of the state, because as we've seen, an outbreak can occur anywhere in the state.

Reopening any part of our state also comes with risk.

This virus is still very dangerous and it still poses a great threat.

Until there is a vaccine, unfortunately, we will not be able to go back to life as we knew it.

Not here in oregon or frankly anywhere.

I know this can be a really tough reality to face.

However, i am inspired by the way oregonians have taken on a shared responsibility to protect each other through this crisis.

It is really a testament to our generosity and compassion that we are where we are.

These measures combined with the talent of our extraordinary doctors, nurses, and health professionals have made oregon a comparatively safe harbor during this pandemic.

I do have to be clear with each and every one of you, physical distancing is and will remain a part of our lives for many months to come.

Face coverings are and will remain a part of our lives for many months to come.

Hand washing and good hygiene are and will remain life saving daily practices.

We must help protect our hard working grocery store clerks by wearing our face coverings.

We must continue to use video conferencing or telephone calls to connect with our grandparents and our elderly friends and neighbors.

We must continue to connect with our friends and family even as we remain apart.

By continuing to limit our physical interactions overall, and with science as our guide, today i'm announcing the first details for the first phase of a step by step reopening of the state of oregon.

This framework takes into account the unique ways the virus has impacted different parts of oregon and here's what it looks like.

First, we have established a detailed set of prerequisites that any county who wants to begin reopening must meet.

These thresholds will help counties keep people safe as possible while we rebuild.

They are also achievable.

I've been briefing county commissioners across the state over the past week on details of these requirements and the oregon health authority is providing support in meeting them.

For counties that meet the state's requirements to move into phase one of reopening, the following sectors are eligible to reopen following these specific safety guidelines.

Restaurants and bars in these communities may open for sit-down service but only with adequate physical distancing and the wearing of face coverings by employees.

We encourage our customers, of course, to wear face coverings as well, but not while they're eating.

Personal care businesses such as salons, barbershops, and gyms may open in a limited way.

We will require physical distancing and increased sanitation as well as a series of additional guidelines like wearing face coverings and gloves at salons.

Salons must serve customers by appointment only and maintain records for contact tracing.

Retail businesses can also open using physical distancing.

We ask that they encourage this through proper signage, one way flow in aisles, and using tape markings to delineate space.

Local gatherings can increase in size to 25.

Again, with physical distancing.

Some counties will be able to move into the space before others.

Once in phase one, each county must remain for a minimum of 21 days so that we can monitor whether there's an unsafe uptick in the virus.

If at this point the county still meets the prerequisites and has not seen an increase in hospitalizations and emergency department admissions for covid-like illness, then we will assess whether they are ready to move forward into the next phase.

The details of phase two will be finalized shortly, but given what we know now, our expectations are to allow for somewhat larger gatherings and more work in office settings.

There is some difficult news to share.

Large gatherings, including live sporting events with audiences, concerts, festivals, and conventions, will not be able to return until we have a reliable treatment or prevention like a vaccine.

The oregon health authority is advising that any large gathering at least through september should either be canceled or significantly modified.

I know this is really, really hard.

I, too, will miss visiting our fairs and our festivals this year.

Starting tomorrow we'll begin accepting applications from counties looking to enter in phase one.

These applications will be reviewed quickly by the oregon health authority with a goal of notifying counties that they meet the requirements they are eligible to enter phase one as early as friday, may 15th.

In addition to this framework for phase one of reopening, i'm announcing strong recommendations on the use of face coverings and the additional lifting of certain statewide restrictions.

Next week we will be issuing guidelines related to the expansion of options for childcare and providing clear guidelines for summer school, summer camps, and summer youth programs. we have consulted extensively with doctors, nurses, and public health experts.

They tell us that under the right restrictions, we can take this step safely.

Health professionals will finalize details on the guidelines for childcare, summer school camp, and youth programs next week.

I prioritized opening these sectors because childcare is absolutely essential to allow parents to get back to work and because education is the bed rock of our society.

I want to close by saying that as this process of reopening begins, i again ask that oregonians come together and be smart.

Please follow the safety measures we are putting in place to help these businesses reopen.

We've had the best doctors and public health experts guide us on how to safely and gradually reopen oregon in a safe and strong way.

It's up to all of us to follow their advice if we want to keep oregon moving forward.

Thank you and with that, i'll turn it over to dr. renee edwards.

>> thank you, governor brown.

Good morning, everyone.

My name is renee edwards.

I'm the chief medical officer of ohsu health.

I'm a member of the governor's medical advisory panel.

I want to reiterate a sincere thank you to oregonians for helping flatten the curve of covid-19.

I stood in this same room on march 16th on behalf of oregon cmos with a stark message of covid-19's potentially overwhelming our health system.

We asked oregonians to please follow the governor's direction and you did.

Oregon has cut its anticipated infection rate by 70%.

A truly remarkable accomplishment based upon what we have seen from so many other places around the world.

We've done this because of the governor's early response along with the willingness of oregonians to take action.

The same modeling that in march predicted our covid surge now clearly shows that it was these actions that prevented that surge.

I know there have been extraordinary sacrifices made by oregon citizens and for these all health care providers are grateful.

Now we must bring this same laser focus to safely and effectively reopening oregon so we can all start to resume more normal lives while also continuing to manage any potential resurgent spread of covid in our community.

I'm very appreciative that the governor has continued to take a scientific and evidenced-based approach with the plan to reopen oregon.

The governor has established a very collaborative discussion with the medical advisory panel.

She sought feedback from the group throughout the process and created a platform for sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas.

The medical advisory panel is comprised of health care professionals from across oregon along with oha staff and has helped to develop the strategies around pressing needs identifying -- identifying potential gaps and challenges and we've given feedback from the front lines of oregon's health care response.

It's important to note that just as we have phased in measures to slow the spread of covid-19, we will need to slowly phase them out.

We need time between actions to understand just what the impact of lifting measures is having on the spread of the virus.

That's why there's a minimum of 21 days between phases.

So we can watch that impact and be sure that we do not see a rise in infections as a result.

And even as we open some sectors, basic infection control measures such as hand washing, facial coverings, and physical distancing must remain in place to stay safe.

I want to end by saying again what a meaningful difference every oregonian has made for their community.

I'm extremely proud to call this state my home.

I hope we will all continue to act responsibly with our families, neighbors, and community in mind as we begin to enjoy some of these new opportunities.

We're all in this together.

Only by acting together will we be able to reopen oregon safely.

And now pat allen from the oregon health authority will provide us with some additional information.

>> thank you, doctor.

Again, i'm patrick allen, director of the oregon health authority.

I'm happy to be here to be able to summarize the next steps towards reopening and the guidelines oha public health officials and the governor's office have developed to steer a safe reopening.

These were developed with input from business owners, county officials, medical experts and many other people and we really appreciate their input.

Let me start by saying this.

Keeping oregon safe and strong depends on all of us.

As governor brown noted, oregonians prevented infections and saved lives by adhering to the governor's stay-at-home orders and closure of schools and nonessential businesses.

It worked.

Oregon flattened the curve.

So far we have avoided the tragic worst case scenarios we've seen play out around the world, regionally and elsewhere in the united states.

As of the end of april, oregon's covid-19 infection rate of 66.2 per hundred thousand people ranked fourth lowest in the united states.

Oregon's covid-19 death rate was the eighth lowest in the country.

Our hospitals have enough beds and ventilators to treat people with severe illness.

As of yesterday, oregon had more than 2,000 available hospital beds and 775 available ventilators.

Now we're on the cusp of reopening.

But that doesn't mean covid-19 has gone away.

It continues to lurk in our communities.

It continues to threaten the lives of oregonians, especially older adults.

And it continues to put the health and well-being of people of color, people with lower incomes, and health care workers at disproportionate risk.

We're not in the clear in our country or in our state.

Covid-19 infectitrace 95% of co4 hours.

And need people to do this tracing in support of quarantine and isolation in language resident speak and with sensitivity necessary to build trust and ensure compliance.

In addition to the county requirements, we have to have adequate testing in each health care region that wants to reopen.

Health care providers must have the capacity to test 30 people per 10,000 per week.

Underserved communities have to have access to testing as they are experiencing disproportionate rates of infection and illness.

We have to have adequate health care capacity in the regions where a county wants to reopen.

This means being able to -- having at least 20% of available hospital beds to absorb any potential surgeons.

We have to have enough personal protective equipment in place to protect health care workers and other front line personnel.

To conclude, we are not returning to business as usual.

We are venturing into uncharted territory.

Safely reopening businesses and other activities during a pandemic.

We know there will be many questions.

Each employer, retailer, restaurant owner, personal care provider will know best how your business operates.

These guidelines tell you how you can operate safely.

Follow them.

Each county will have to demonstrate it has met the criteria for a safe phased reopening.

The county must do more than meet the threshold to reopen.

Counties will have to remain safe conditions to stay open and move to the next phase.

Each one of us will have to continue to practice safe hygiene, minimize travel, stay d ones safe by avoiding physical contact and taking all the other steps we have successfully been taking that are necessary to protect each other and ourselves.

Oregonians have a history of building safe and strong communities even in uncharted territory.

We can do it again if we all work together.

Thank you.

>> thank you.

Ready for questions?

[ off mic ] >> my role as governor is tomake state are safe and healthy and with the gradual reopening and the additional requirements including testing, contact tracing and isolation, we think we can continue to contain the virus.

Behind all of these sector guidelines we use data and health criteria to make these decisions.

If pat or the doctor wants to add anything.

[inaudible] >> great question, rachel.

I'm not wearing a mask while i'm speaking because the -- i believe that what i would be saying would be a bit muffled.

As you can see, i wore my state of oregon mask that one of my staff members daughter's made.

On the back just to make sure you know, it's a real made in oregon mask.

We have duck furs and there is a big picture of big foot on the mask.

So we wore them all coming in.

And i will wear them going out.

But our recommendations for oregonians in terms of wearing face coverings, we want to make sure that oregonians are protecting themselves as well as their neighbors and their community members.

So i'm asking oregonians to be both kind and smart to protect themselves.

But also to protect members of their families and folks that they come into contact with.

We have certain requirements for certain businesses that those employees must wear masks.

And for families or vulnerable community members, our team is building a website to help support access to ppe for both medical and business community members and for vulnerable oregonians.

I'm continuing to call on our communities across the state.

They've done great work in supporting our medical community.

We've had folks who are sewing masks in cities around the state.

If you're a sewer, now is a great time to help make more face coverings for vulnerable people in your community, so we'd ask you put your great skills to work.

[ inaudible question ] >> the question was do we have any idea of what counties will qualify to reopen.

I'm going to turn it over to oregon health authority.

I think they have a list.

>> yeah.

Again, pat allen with the health authority.

As we look at the preliminary data, of course we haven't received any actual application.

There we go.

We've not received any applications in.

A big piece of this will be the ability of individual counties to do this contact tracing isolation and quarantine work that we talked about.

If you look at the metrics level, i think it's safe to assume that the majority of oregon counties will be in a place by next friday to meet those metrics and be able to successfully reopen.

[ inaudible question ] >> okay.

That's two questions, andrew.

In terms of our coordination with our western pac states, our chief of staffs are talking on a regular basis and our public health directors are as well.

As a specific example, we opened, for example, fishing on the columbia river in conjunction with the state of washington.

We'll continue to coordinate with the state of washington in particular around parks and recreation.

In terms of enforcement, what i have to say is this.

People around the state and business owners have made tremendous sacrifices to comply with these physical distancing measures.

I know it's been really, really challenging.

We're working hard to be able to get these businesses open safely and to be able to protect the public around the state.

I obviously there are a few outliers that are violating the stay at home and physical distancing order.

These businesses need to understand that opening before we're ready literally puts lives at risk.

And in a few rare cases, state agencies might be issuing fines and taking action to shut down businesses if it becomes necessary.

But for the most part, oregonians have done an extraordinary job complying with the executive orders and these physical distancing measures, because we all understand that lives are at stake.

[ inaudible question ] >> that's a great question.

I think it's important to remind people that one of the recommendations, one of the things we call on oregonians to do several times and what we talked about today is avoid unnecessary travel.

The fact that things are open isn't an open invitation to travel across the state and flood into a region, because that will backfire on all of us, on the community of people you visit and on our ability to continue to gradually reopen things.

We really are asking people as things reopen across the state to make use of those services and facilities and opportunities in your communities, but not to travel in other parts of the state so that we can continue this slow measured careful reopening.

>> you'll notice that from the recreational openings there are still certain parts of the state that are closed to recreational activities.

For example, the north coast beaches and the columbia gorge.

I think the goal is to do a gradual reopening.

Again, we want to encourage oregonians to be smart and make smart choices.

That means if you do end up traveling, make sure that you have appropriate supplies with you, hand sanitizer and that you pack it out and pack it back in.

[ inaudible question ] >> doctor, do you want to take that one?

>> we ask that as oregon begins to open up if a community, a county is ready to open up and has met the criteria that that gathering size would increase to 25.

We appreciate them trying to maintain physical distancing and if at all possible they can maintain some of their activities where it doesn't involve people gathering, using electronic means to create a drive-in ceremony.

That would work as well.

Had protect their parishioners and help protect the members of the faith community.

There is a similar recommendation to other organizations about gatherings that limit those physical gatherings when you can, keep the physical distance.

That way you can keep everyone safe in the community.

[ inaudible question ] >> you had three questions, i think, slipped in there.

First in terms of testing metrics, those metrics you quoted from april 24th, those numbers have been -- the actual tests administered have been increasing dramatically today.

We received results for nearly 2,500 tests today alone.

We've received 14,000 test results in the past seven days and those numbers continue to ramp up.

One of the keys to being able to meet this metric, which is in fact based on capacity, not actual tests administered, is the fact that we finally got supply from the federal government from the government for the abbott rapid test machines and we've been able to deploy them around the state to rural communities and clinics and others who serve underserved communities.

That gives us significant capacity, again, capacity to be able to do testing and testing in response to potential outbreaks.

In terms of the covid-like illness metric, our daily report includes a chart that shows the percentage of emergency department utilizations that is related to covid-like symptoms. we saw that number build over time and peak at about the time that the pandemic peaked in oregon before it settled back down to the plea toe we're at pt now.

They have come back to the baseline level of a couple percent of those visits.

As we look at that, i am comfortable with that and i have lost track of the third question.

>> can you generally say that rural -- >> i don't think i want to go quite that far, but i would say the more rural a county is, the subject to capacity to be able to do contact tracing and quarantine and isolation support, probably the more likely it is to be in a position to successfully test.

Doctor, you wanted to add?

>> yes.

I'd like to make a general comment, if i may, about emergency room visits.

Not only are the percentage of covid-like illnesses and influenza-like illnesses down, emergency room visits across hospitals in oregon are significantly down everywhere for all conditions.

One of the things that i really want to emphasize to oregonians is that seeking health care at this time is safe.

Just as oregon is reopening in many sectors, health care has been open throughout our pandemic response and will continue to be open.

I want all oregonians to know that we want you to seek care for those health conditions that require care rather than not be in contact with your provider or be concerned that seeking health care could place your health at risk for contracting covid.

Know that it's safe.

Know that we're there for you and that we are open and continue to treat all conditions for which oregonians seek care.

>> really important point.

Thank you.

>> i'll just add to what director allen said.

Because that percentage of covid-like illnesses present in the emergency department is so small, i can barely see it on the daily report, that number is below what we would see typically this time of year for influenza-like illness.

That typical people presenting with respiratory illness would be about 1.5% and folks presenting with symptoms of covid are below that.

We've seen that really over the last several weeks.

The presentations into emergency department can be an early indicator of increasing disease and we're not seeing that.

That number is staying below 1.5%.

[ inaudible question ] >> the answer is yes, but things could do -- fair, for example, could do some of their events and do them differently with physical distancing and with more limited numbers of people.

I think that probably applies to the oregon state fair, as painful as it is.

I know this is painful for everyone, particularly the senate president because he loves those goat milking contests.

But i do think some of the pieces -- some aspects of the fair could continue, again, with physical distancing, appropriate face coverings, and limiting the amount of people.

[ inaudible question ] >> we're still working on it, but school -- our education system is the bedrock of our community of our society.

It's critically important and a priority for me to get our students, our kids back into school in the fall.

It will probably look a little different than it has, but director gill and the folks at the department of education are working with educators across the state, with parents, with superintendents and principals to make sure that we can do this in a way that's safe, that protects our students, but also protects our staff.

And to ensure most importantly that our children get the stimulation and the education that they need through our public education system.

[ inaudible question ] >> i absolutely can, but i'm going to let one of the physicians do that.

>> i think in looking at reopening businesses and other institution care in oregon, we know things aren't going to return to the way they were.

We are putting things in place that can limit physical distancing, trying to keep six feet apart, using face coverings when appropriate.

The curfew is an attempt that in some of these locations as we open them up, a bar isn't going to look like a bar as before.

We're asking people to sit down with their party 6 feet from others.

If those bars are open late into the night, often times if people lose track of, you know, how much they're drinking, they may not keep their physical distance as much.

As woe slowly and carefully reopen, we want to put that piece in place so that people can take responsibility for their actions.

As we see what's happening in oregon, we examine all the requirements of businesses.

It's really an attempt to try and make sure we can let people go out and enjoy a visit to a bar, enjoy a visit to a restaurant, but not open it up like it was before the pandemic arrived and we'll continue to re-evaluate this criteria.

[ inaudible question ] >> so we've identified the first hundred of those already by identifying oregon health authority employees and moving them into slots to be able to do that contact tracing work primarily as surge capacity and backup capacity, especially thinking about how to meet the needs of rural and frontier counties who have relatively little infrastructure themselves.

The remaining 500 will be added not by the state but at the local level and it will be a mix that will vary from county to county of county employees potentially, community health workers, people who work for community organizations that have ceased relationships with at-risk communities.

There were today before we started any of that about 250 people at the local level doing contact tracing work.

That's an increase from the 70 or 80 that usually do that full-time.

This is, of course, public health function that exists even in the absence of covid.

Between all those sources of contact tracers, we have more confidence that that amount -- that number of people will allow us to meet the threshold.

That said, we're also not wedded to that maximum number and it might not need to go up.

Once we have the infrastructure in place, the number of people is pretty scalable pretty quickly.

If we determine that we, in fact, need more people, we can rapidly add more people to do this work.

>> you're listening to governor kate


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