Kate Brown Jolts & Juice

Gov. Kate Brown, right, and Tiffany Cruickshank listen to comments from Ralph Poole, not in picture, about the carbon reduction bill during Brown’s luncheon meeting with the Eastern Oregon Border Board at Jolts & Juice in March 2019. 

ONTARIO

The state of Oregon is doing well in its fight to control the spread of COVID-19 virus across the state, but Gov. Kate Brown said Oregonians need to do better, particularly if they want to see students back in school in person.

At a news conference at noon on Friday, Brown said Oregon has one of the “lowest mortality rates in the entire county.

“We have truly slowed the spread of the virus,” she said, adding though that it was not enough. “The infection rate is still too high to get all of our kids safely back in the classroom in most of our schools this fall.”

More steps need to be taken to make this happen, she said and they need to be done quickly, she said. That includes closer following of the guidelines already in place, such as social distancing and wearing face coverings and testing, contact tracing and closing down businesses and imposing travel restrictions.

“Either strategy will work and give us a fighting chance to open our schools.”

But one path, further business shutdowns, has a far greater impact on people than the other and their livelihoods, Brown said.

“The economic cost is extra ordinary,” she said.

It could mean possibly skipping meals and missed bill payments, she added.

Economic costs have real health consequences, and why she is reluctant to order further business shutdowns, Brown continued

What is needed is community and business leaders and people to work together to make sure that current guidelines are followed such as no large social gatherings, such as pool parties, and provide support for people who need to stay home when they are sick or would otherwise infect other people if out in the public.

Education is more preferable than enforcing the guidelines, Brown said, noting that a citation for not following the guidelines can bring a $500 fine.

We have stabilized the number of cases prepay in Oregon and we need to get down to 60 cases per day, she said, adding that her priority is to get kids back into classroom. At the current rate of infections it could take more than 200 days to get all students back in the classroom, she said.

“This has always been a balancing act,” Brown said, between shutting the state down or opening it up.

Pat Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority, said new cases are on the decline and as of Friday stood at 24,421 confirmed or presumed, with 414 deaths.

New infections have declined 7% over the last week and hospitalizations dropping from 143 to 115 in the same period.

“We are on the right track,” Allen said. “We need to step on the gas.”

Also, he said health officials are working to increase testing capacity.

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