Douglas County officials Friday afternoon submitted an application to the governor for a Phase One reopening.

Gov. Kate Brown indicated Thursday that the first phase could include reopening salons, gyms, barbershops and restaurant dining rooms in rural areas that meet criteria for low COVID-19 infection rates, high testing availability and contact tracing.

The businesses have been shuttered for more than a month under a statewide stay-at-home order.

County officials said they’re ready to start reopening.

Friday was the first day the state began accepting applications from counties wishing to reopen.

Counties that receive the governor’s approval could enter Phase One as early as May 15.

Douglas County Board of Commissioners Chairman Chris Boice and Douglas County Public Health Officer Bob Dannenhoffer led the effort to complete and submit the Phase One reopening application.

“We are hopeful and encouraged by the opportunity to submit our reopening application,” Boice said in a written statement.

“Our Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team, under the direction of Commissioner Tim Freeman, along with the incredible work accomplished by our Public Health Official, Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer and Douglas Public Health Network, have paved the way for Douglas County to be in the right position to begin the reopening process in a safe and organized manner,” Boice said.

“We have done our due diligence, met the criteria outlined and we are ready!” he said.

The COVID-19 Response Team said in a press release the county has been recognized as a leader for its drive-thru testing. It also said it has the capacity to do more COVID-19 testing, and encourages people with symptoms like cough, fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches and pains, diarrhea, sore throat or decreased sense of smell and taste talk to their health care providers about being tested for COVID-19.

No new cases were reported in the county Friday. There has been just one positive test reported in the last 18 days, and that patient has already recovered. The total stands at 24, with 22 having recovered. No county residents have died of the disease. One remains in the hospital.

The response team collaborated with county departments and community health care providers to respond to the crisis.

At first, no one knew what to expect, the press release said.

Projections about the disease’s spread led to alarm about the potential for the county to face a shortage of hospital beds and personal protective equipment, or PPE, such as masks if there was a surge in the numbers of people falling ill.

Now, the county is now in a better position to address any surge in cases because of the response team’s work, the press release said.

Douglas County Human Resources Director Michael Kurtz, a veteran, helped get the response team running.

“Seeing our staff working seamlessly with all of these partner agencies really highlights the level of professionalism the County has within its senior management team,” Kurtz said in the press release.

“It was also reassuring to see that same level of professionalism and subject matter expertise in our partnering agencies. The resources that everyone around the table was able to bring to this effort were remarkable. The work isn’t over, but this is certainly a community that is up to the challenge,” Kurtz said.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(6) comments

CitizenJoe

Perhaps I am misreading Mercy's numbers, but it looks, for instance, like they have about 3600 N95 masks on hand, and an average of census of about 60 patients and claimed that the N95 masks are a ~60 day supply. So, they expect to use one N95 mask per patient per day? Am I misreading the numbers? If not, does that seem reasonable to anybody? Bueller? Are they relying on using procedure masks, which are not intended to be used to protect the wearer, but to protect, for example, the surgical patient when the surgeon is wearing the mask.

InDWoods

Glad to see a quick response to the guidelines from our county. Hopefully by Friday we'll be back closer to normal. Ready for the YMCA to reopen!!

Mike

Please find Douglas County’s unprofessional and deficient application for the Governor’s phase 1 reopening of businesses at the bottom link. Douglas County provides the following reasons for why it meets all of the requirements to commence Phase 1 reopening.

1. Declining COVID-19 prevalence, including declining hospitalizations for 14 days.

Douglas County’s application claims it meets this requirement because it has a “Declining prevalence of hospitalizations” and “no more than 5 hospitalizations at any time in the past 28 days. However, prevalence refers to the percentage of emergency room visits for COVID-19-like illness, not hospitalizations. It appears Douglas County may have interchanged these two metrics in its application.

2. Minimum testing of 30 tests per 10,000 population per week on a regional level and accessibility for undeserved communities

Douglas County’s application claims it can test 1,470 people per week at seven different locations in the county even though the most Douglas County has ever tested in one week is 316. This requirement is incomplete because it does not address surge capacity on a regional basis as specified. Also incomplete is testing for undeserved communities. The application only mentions, “I hope there is a strong focus on the underserved population, especially those who are homeless.”

3. Requirement of 17 contact tracers.

According to the application, “Douglas County and DPHN have long experience in investigating outbreaks in nursing homes, schools and other facilities, having performed over 40 outbreak investigations in the past 5 years.” Douglas County’s application claims “we have identified 18 individuals who are already engaged or willing to join our team.” However, the list of contact tracers named in the application indicates three of the individuals, including the only Spanish speaking individual, are “interested in working in this project, depending on employment details.” The application indicates tracers will be broken up into two teams of seven people (not sure what the other four contact tracers will be doing) including a Spanish interpreter for each team. Yet, only one person listed is bi-lingual in Spanish.

4. Available isolation or quarantine facilities.

According to the application, “Douglas County has used several local hotels during this Covid 19 pandemic, most recently to house cases and contacts from the Shutter Creek outbreak.” Though unsaid, we are to assume that is the plan going forward.

5. Abide by statewide sector guidelines.

Sector guidelines for businesses were announced May 7 (below link). Douglas County’s application says nothing about how it will comply or how business compliance will be addressed.

https://sharedsystems.dhsoha.state.or.us/DHSForms/Served/le2342B.pdf

6. Sufficient health care capacity, including 20 percent bed surge capacity at hospitals on a regional level.

According to the application, “we have a surge capacity of 58 patients under normal operations with the resumption of elective procedures resulting in an additional bed surge capacity of 81%. This requirement is incomplete because it only addresses local hospital capacity and does not address surge capacity on a regional basis as specified.

7. Sufficient supply of personal protective equipment.

According to the application, Douglas County “local hospitals have PPE supplies that will meet the stated guidelines and that the county has sufficient PPE supplies to support our EMS system.” The required signature of hospital executives attesting to sufficient PPE is missing. The required signature of County Commissioners attesting to sufficient PPE for emergency responders is missing.

In conclusion, I know seventh graders who could have written a more professional document (below link). The application is neither dated, signed or titled. The content of the application clearly fails to meet or even address six of the seven requirements for Douglas County to reopen businesses on May 15.

https://www.oregon.gov/gov/coronavirus/SubmissionstoReopen/Douglas-County-Phase-1-Submission.pdf

CitizenJoe

Mike, thanks for your diligence and detail. I hope you forwarded your comments to the governor's office. I would also hope that the application will be amended to address and remedy those concerns. There are still a few days available before the 15th--and that date is merely a first-available, rather than a deadline.

It's also unfortunate that the CDC guidelines were suppressed by Trump. Nevertheless, the contents could and should be used by states, counties, businesses, and individuals.

InDWoods

Looks like the Governor disagrees with your assessment.

Mike

A letter prepared April 22 by Douglas County Commissioners was sent to the Governor requesting approval to open Douglas County on April 25. Commissioners then held a conference call with the Governor on May 5 to discuss the governor’s plan to qualify for entering Phase 1 reopening on May 15. They learned a county seeking the governor’s approval to reopen must meet the below seven prerequisites both on a county and regional level. Other counties in Douglas County’s region include; Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Coos and Curry. I offer my comments on Douglas County’s readiness on each prerequisite for Phase 1 reopening;

1. Declining COVID-19 prevalence, including declining hospitalizations for 14 days.

It is unknown whether Douglas County meets the prevalence requirement. Prevalence refers to the percentage of emergency room visits for COVID-19-like illness (CLI) must be lower than the historic average for flue at the same time of the year. This information has not been published by DPHN and it’s anyone’s guess whether it ever will be. From the information reported, it appears Douglas County may have met the second criteria of declining 14-day hospitalizations.

2. Minimum testing of 30 tests per 10,000 population per week on a regional level and accessibility for undeserved communities

Douglas County currently does not meet either metric of this requirement. It must test a minimum of 333 people per week to meet its regional portion of the testing requirement. Douglas County tested 231 people over the past week. The most Douglas County has ever tested per week was 316 during the week ending May 2. Douglas County also currently does not meet the metric for accessibility for underserved communities. Douglas County must change their own requirement that testing is only available to people with primary care doctors and must now make testing available to everyone including the homeless and those who cannot afford to see a primary care doctor.

3. Established contact tracing system, including 15 tracers per 100,000 population.

It is unknown whether Douglas County meets this requirement. Douglas County must have 17 tracers. Douglas County has never revealed how many people currently are performing contact tracing in our county so it unknown whether it has the 17 contact tracers necessary to meet this requirement. This also requires contact tracing on 95% of new cases be done in 24 hours. Commissioners have been asked numerous times in writing for this information be made available to the public and have so far refused to provide any information regarding contact tracing. Douglas County has deemed this information secret.

4. Available isolation or quarantine facilities.

Douglas County currently does not meet this requirement. To do so, Douglas County must provide “hotel rooms or other shelter locations” for the homeless or those who cannot afford to quarantine themselves if they test positive. DPHN’s current homeless information flyer that tells homeless people to call 911 if they think they have COVID-19 does not meet this requirement.

http://douglaspublichealthnetwork.org/wp-

content/uploads/2020/04/COVID_HomelessFlier_PRINT-4.29-1.pdf

5. Abide by statewide sector guidelines.

It is doubtful whether Douglas County currently meets this requirement. OHA has not finalized its’ “guidelines to protect employees and consumers, make the physical work space safer and implement processes that lower risk of infection in the business.” Douglas County has already begun reopening offices and businesses and the sheriff has announced he will not enforce the governor’s sector guidelines even when they are finalized.

6. Sufficient health care capacity, including 20 percent bed surge capacity at hospitals on a regional level.

It is unknown whether Douglas County meets this requirement. This information has been reported daily to the OHA for weeks. Our County Commissioners have been asked numerous times in writing for this information be made available to the public on a regular basis and have so far refused to provide it. Will that change now that it is a phase 1 reopening requirement is anyone’s guess.

7. Sufficient supply of personal protective equipment.

It is unknown whether Douglas County meets this requirement. Counties must attest to sufficient PPE for emergency responders. Counties must also attest that large hospitals have a 30-day PPE supply and small hospitals have a 14-day PPE supply and report those numbers to OHA daily. This information has been reported daily to the OHA for weeks. Our County Commissioners have been asked numerous times in writing for this information be made available to the public on a regular basis and have so far refused to provide it. Will that change now that it is a phase 1 reopening requirement is anyone’s guess.

Personally, I’m not sure why complying with the governor’s plan even matters now since county businesses are already reopening in defiance of the governor’s plan and our sheriff has announced he won’t enforce the governor’s plan to reopen Oregon.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JM2dwYVK4Y4IBxMT6Si5-H_LNua52tnu/view

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