Brown, OHA to hit the pause button on Malheur County’s social activities

Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority are announcing 2-week pause measures for five counties today, including Malheur County.

MALHEUR COUNTY

An official with Oregon Health Authority just confirmed that the agency will be talking with Gov. Kate Brown during her press conference at 2 p.m. (MT) about new COVID-19 restrictions for five counties, with Malheur County among them.

According to Rod Cowie, OHA communications director, Malheur County will be among those that are going to take a two-week pause on social activities until the day before Thanksgiving in an effort to save lives. He said the process is “fluid,” and has a lot of moving pieces that they will walk through during the news conference.

These activities include visits to long-term care facilities, reducing capacity for indoor dining at restaurants to 50 people indoors with maximum party sizes, and reducing capacity at other indoor places, including gyms, bowling alleys, indoor sports facilities, museums, and others places. Businesses will be urged to mandate work from home to the greatest extent possible, and individuals are urged to limit their social gathering sizes.

Cowie sent a brief ahead of the presser that explains how Brown will announce the new measures “to help stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 in counties where community transmission is on the rise.”

The measures will be in effect from Nov. 11-25, according to the brief, and will impact Malheur, Marion, Multnomah, Jackson and Umatilla counties.

The two-week pause is being instituted in counties with a case rate above 200 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period, or more than 60 cases over a two-week period for counties with fewer than 30,000 people, according to the brief.

The high case count on Thursday, combined with recent case counts “continue to show that COVID-19 is spreading more rapidly in Oregon than we had hoped,” said Dean Sidelinger, state health officer, in a news release on Thursday.

“Based on increasing statewide case counts, as well as increased sporadic case rates in these five counties, the new public health measures to reduce spread are an effort to save lives in Oregon,” reads the brief.

In addition, OHA will examine COVID-19 metrics on Monday for five counties that are near thresholds to be included in the pause list. These are Washington, Baker, Union, Clackamas and Linn.

To clarify, the restrictions relate to social activities, and not to schools.

“COVID-19 is spreading in Oregon at an unprecedented rate, driven in no small measure by in-person, indoor social gatherings. You are most likely to get COVID-19 from your family and friends,” said Brown on Thursday. “Let me be clear: we cannot allow this disease to continue to spread so rapidly in our communities. Lives are at stake. Oregonians have made tremendous sacrifices to help each other throughout this pandemic, which is why Oregon has done relatively better than many other states at containing COVID-19. We can’t let up now. I will take further action to stop the spread of COVID-19, and I need Oregonians to continue to do their part as well.”

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