Nyssa Drive-up testing 2

Workers from Malheur Country Health Department, seen here, were screening individuals for COVID-19 testing in the Nyssa High School parking lot.

ONTARIO

The two week pause for nine Oregon counties has become a two-week freeze for the whole state of Oregon as the governor imposes more social gathering restrictions to try and slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep hospitals from overflowing.

To assist with this effort, the governor is enlisting help of Oregon State Police and local authorities to enforce regulations on social gatherings as needed.

“It is a very dangerous situation,” Gov. Kate Brown said Friday afternoon at a press conference announcing the freeze, as she reported that the case loads of the virus had topped 1,000 per day in Oregon despite attempts to slow the spread,

“Since I announced a Two-Week Pause one week ago, we are seeing an alarming spike in both cases and hospitalizations,” said Brown. “The virus is spreading in the community and, every day, it is infecting more and more Oregonians. This situation is dangerous and our hospitals have been sounding the alarms.”

Malheur County was one of the first counties put under the two-week pause.

If we want to give Oregon a fighting chance, we must take further measures to flatten the curve and save lives. I know this is hard, and we are weary. But, we are trying to stop this ferocious virus from quickly spreading far and wide. And in Oregon, we actually can do this,” Brown said.

Initially the freeze will run from Nov. 18 to Dec. 2, although some counties will be in for four weeks.

“It is a necessity,” Brown said.

Beginning Wednesday, restaurants and bars will only be allowed to offer take-out and delivery service only, that stores will be allowed to operate at 75% of capacity and church attendance will be limited to 25 or less indoors and 50 or less outdoors.

Other measures will include:

• Limiting social get-togethers to no more than six people total, no more than two households.

• Closing gyms and fitness facilities.

• Closing zoos, gardens, aquariums aquariums and outdoor recreational facilities.

• Closing indoor recreational facilities, museums and other indoor entertainment venues.

• Requiring all businesses to mandate work-to-home as much as possible and closing offices to the public.

Not included in the two-week freeze are personal services such as barber shops and hair salons, also congregate homeless sheltering, outdoor recreations, school and higher education, all of which are operating under guidance of the Oregon Health Authority.

Brown said she will be issuing an executive order on restrictions which will make them enforceable by law and has asked the Oregon State Police Superintendent to work with local law enforcement to legally enforce the limits social gathering. They are class-C misdemeanors.

Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe said, “We believe that people are responsible for their own action. “Make sure that people are wearing masks or keeping proper distance is not a priority for us.”

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