Oregon Gov. Kate Brown presents plan to reopen amid virus

Gov. Kate Brown speaks with the media at the Capitol in Salem in this July photo.

Two of the largest summer gatherings in Douglas County are taking a wait-and-see approach following Gov. Kate Brown’s Thursday announcement extending the ban on large gatherings through September. Both the Music on the Half Shell and Graffiti Weekend committees will meet next week to decide if they can move forward with their planned events.

Other summer festivals have already canceled. The 32nd Annual Sutherlin Blackberry Festival committee announced the festival’s cancellation at the end of March and the 52nd Annual Summer Arts Festival was canceled in April.

Brown on Thursday outlined a plan to reopen salons, gyms, barbershops and restaurants in the least-affected — and mostly rural — parts of Oregon after more than a month of a statewide stay-at-home order, but also cautioned that any loosening of restrictions could be rolled back if COVID-19 infection rates surge.

“Physical distancing is, and will remain, a part of our lives for many months to come,” Brown warned.

The reopening will occur in phases, and Douglas County commissioners planned to apply Friday for the governor’s approval to begin the first phase of reopening.

Even under a Phase One reopening, gatherings would only be increased from 10 to 25 people. Most fairs will likely close, and if they don’t, they won’t be the same.

“Fairs could do some of their events and do them differently, with physical distancing and with more limited numbers of people,” Brown said.

The Oregon State Fair already announced its closure. Douglas County officials could not be reached Thursday to address the question of whether the Douglas County Fair will close.

Brown said Oregon 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,” Brown said.

Brown, who has come under increasing pressure to reopen from rural counties, said that on May 15 she will loosen restrictions statewide on daycares and on retail shops that were previously closed, including furniture stores, boutiques, jewelry stores and art galleries.

Counties that have very small numbers of coronavirus cases and that have seen declining infection numbers can also apply to reopen beauty salons, gyms and bars and restaurants for sit-down dining on May 15 with a number of rules and limitations, she said. Those areas can submit their plans to the state for approval starting Friday and must also have a system in place for contact tracing for people who become infected and have isolation facilities lined up for homeless residents who have no way to observe a quarantine order.

Rural counties in eastern Oregon may be ready to meet the criteria, but Marion County and the Portland metropolitan region are still weeks away, said Nik Blosser, Brown’s chief-of-staff. State health authorities will be monitoring infection rates closely and will take action if they can’t trace the origins of at least 75% of new infections or if the number of new cases or hospitalizations increase for seven consecutive days, he said.

Brown’s emergency executive order remains in place until July 6. Oregon is currently under a statewide stay-at-home order and schools are closed through the end of the school year. Restaurants are allowed to offer take-out or delivery service only and most retail, with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential business, are closed.

“If there’s 20 new positive cases and they’re all tied to one known thing, that’s a very different situation than if they just pop up and we don’t know where they came from,” he said of new cases. “Rolling things back is still certainly on the table.”

Counties that wish to reopen must also coordinate with other counties in their region to ensure that there is enough supply of personal protective equipment at the regional level and that there is enough hospital bed capacity to absorb a 20% surge in admissions from COVID-19, according to the plan. The state is already divided into seven health regions that coordinate on public health issues.

Counties that receive permission to partially reopen on May 15 must wait 21 days before applying to enter the second phase. At that point, those counties could further expand the number of people in gatherings, allow some office work and start allowing visits again to group care settings such as nursing homes and prisons. Details on the second phase are still being worked out, Blosser said.

Brown asked those planning large gatherings, such as concerts, festivals, sports games and conventions, to cancel or significantly modify plans for anything scheduled through at least September.

“They won’t be possible until there’s a reliable treatment or vaccine,” Blosser said. “We’ll give guidance on large events happening later in the year this summer.”

As of Thursday, Oregon had recorded 121 deaths from COVID-19 statewide and nearly 3,000 confirmed cases.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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A recall petition has been started to oust Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman after she offered her city up as a "control group" to see if quickly reopening businesses would result in new coronavirus infections. When asked by MSNBC host Katy Tur how she planned on protecting people from COVID-19, Goodman said, "We've survived the West Nile, SARS, bird flu, E.coli, swine flu, the Zika virus."

Compare Las Vegas Mayor Goodman’s actions and words to those of our Douglas County Commissioners who requested permission to reopen Douglas County on April 25, before establishing necessary testing, tracing, quarantine locations and PPE supply. If MSNBC host Katy Tur had asked our commissioners how they planned to protect Douglas County’s residents, it’s likely they would replied as they did during their March Board of Commissioners’ meeting when they said, “There is no call for social distancing…there is no call to close events…people should go about their lives…this virus, like most viruses, will cycle through and we’ll move on to the next thing.”

Our commissioners seek to make Douglas County residents a control group without ever asking the residents whether we want to accept that risk.



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 (bottom link);

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 (below link) that tells homeless people to call 911 if they think they have COVID-19 does not meet this requirement.


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.” In defiance, 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.



Link to homeless flyer issued by DPHN.



There have been 8 new coronavirus cases reported over the past five days in Douglas County's region.

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