Governor Kate Brown’s office personally revealed new details Monday about how Oregon could begin to reopen in the middle corona virus pandemics, including potential requirements that local officials put forward to submit an official request to the governor and state they have sufficient personal protective equipment for local first responders.
The “Reopening Oregon” framework remains conceptual and can be revised. State officials hope to complete it during the week of May 4, including specific guidelines for various businesses and geographical areas as part of a three-phase plan.
Relaxing the restrictions that have been in effect since March will depend on seeing a decrease in the case of the identified corona virus and increasing the country’s capacity to test people and track their contacts, among other things. Modeling shows Oregon may not be able to reopen its parts of the economy until May.
Following the example of a federal reopening effort, Oregon’s first phase will target eight types of businesses or activities: school and organized youth activities; sit-down restaurant; gymnasium; bar; personal service; big places like church and theater; plus visitors to the hospital or senior care center; and non-emergency medical procedures.
Phase One will still ask all vulnerable people to stay at home, minimize unnecessary trips and encourage work from home. The draft proposal does not encourage social gatherings of more than 10 people, although the figure has not been reviewed by health officials for endorsement.
“It’s not everyone’s back at work,” Elana Pirtle-Guiney, Brown’s legislative director, told state lawmakers during a conference call Monday afternoon.
Brown’s draft plan will require regional officials to request the reopening of their jurisdiction – preferably, it seems, along with other districts as part of a wider area.
Brown also wants written recommendations from district public health officials about reopening, official voting by the county council and written promises from local hospitals to report numbers daily to the Oregon Health Authority regarding protective supplies and number of beds, according to the 25-page order obtained by The Oregonian / OregonLive.
“What you have seen is a draft document,” Pirtle-Guiney said during a conference call. “So please don’t share that. We do not want to make promises that we cannot keep – and this is definitely not a promise of what this will be. “
The proposal shows that not all eight types of businesses will open in Phase One. For example, schools, gymnasiums and big places “are likely” to remain closed during the initial phase, and visitors will be prohibited from going to hospitals and treatment facilities, according to the draft.
This shows that child care facilities can be reopened during Phase One. The working group is studying what to do with other industries targeted for the first stage.
“We know that for other parts of our economy to reopen, we will need to look at least at child care,” Pirtle-Guiney said.
If after 14 days the restrictions are relaxed, health officials do not see signs of trouble, Oregon or certain regions can move to Phase Two.
As currently designed, schools and fitness centers can be reopened at social distances, trips can continue, and meetings can increase to 50 people. But the details have also not been blessed by health workers.
If the loose restrictions do not cause additional problems, Oregon or certain regions can move to Phase Three.
The draft will allow for greater mass meetings and unlimited staffing in the workplace. Visitors can return to the nursing home and restaurants and bars can have more seating. Phase Three has also not been examined by health workers.
The country’s leaders plan to brief dozens of business groups and local government officials about this proposal this week, gathering feedback from some of the hardest hit industries such as restaurants and retailers. Pirtle-Guiney emphasizes that the framework changes almost every day.
“We are trying to convey this information to as many people as possible,” said Pirtle-Guiney, then adding that MPs can share parts of presentations that do not need to be revised with constituents.
Oregon officials seem to take a cautious approach, recognizing that reducing social distance will allow potentially deadly viruses to spread more easily. Already, Oregon has identified nearly 2,000 infections – which are estimated to be thousands more – and 75 residents have died.
Pressure is building up across the country to ease some of the restrictions while maintaining security. The Georgian governor announced on Monday that several businesses, such as fitness centers and barbers, would open Friday, with the theater and restaurants opening next Monday.
And the Senate of the Republic of Oregon is pushing for relaxed rules in rural counties. Brown first announced the widest brushstrokes from last week’s reopening efforts.
“The rural district that me and the caucus represent I must be able to return to normal and return to work,” party leader Senator Herman Baertschiger Jr. of Grants Pass said in a statement Monday.
Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority, warned during a conference call with lawmakers that the reopening of parts of Oregon would be accompanied by risks. He said officials need to monitor the situation closely and “jump on the plague as fast as we can.”
“That would risk us all,” he said.
Pirtle-Guiney reminded lawmakers to dampen expectations and admit that any reopening would not look like the pre-COVID-19 world.
Oregon has never been hit by this virus, compared to other countries, since Brown announced an order to stay home on March 23. As a result, states are at risk of taking more problems forward if coronavirus surges during reopening efforts.
“We close everything quickly, which is good,” said Pirtle-Guiney. “But that means Oregon is more vulnerable to progress. There is no immunity to this virus yet. “
State officials are trying to modify the framework for rural areas with limited cases, which may be reopened quickly. The aim is to lift restrictions in all parts of Oregon largely by region, or in some cases county by county, not by full state.
“We will need your elected officials to provide support,” said Pirtle-Guiney, “that they feel their community is ready to be reopened.”
– Brad Schmidt
This article is original published by The Oregonian / Oregonlive, one of more than a dozen news organizations across the state that is sharing their coverage of a new coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregon residents about this growing health problem.
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