Governor Brown gave an update on the efforts by the State to stop or slow the spread of Covid-19 cases in Oregon. Brown reported that when she took action in March with the stay at home order, some said it was too late while others said it was too strict. "This has always been a balancing act between the two extremes." She said she has been following the data and takes action carefully and gingerly, not knowing if the balance will hold. Right now Oregon has one of the lowest mortality rates in the country.
Wearing masks, limiting social gatherings, enforcing health and safety rules are strategies that work. Unfortunately Brown said it is still not enough. The infection rate is still too high to get students back in the classrooms this fall. There are two options that can help including local city and county leaders, businesses and all Oregonians can step up their efforts to implement and enforce the existing guidelines. The other option would be to implement further business and travel restrictions. These would be for people who are traveling outside the state or those who are coming into Oregon.
"Either of these strategies, according to the data will work and drive down the spread of the virus more quickly." These options, Brown added will be the only way to give the state a fighting chance at opening schools to in person instruction. She admitted that closing businesses is an option that will work but the economic cost is extraordinary. "Behind every business closure are real people who have lost jobs and lost income. Each of these economic costs carries a public health consequence as well."
Too many cases have been spread by large community gatherings this summer. Opening classrooms and childcare is a priority. The state is now stabilized at roughly 300 cases per day and Brown said that number needs to get down to around 60. She added if the State can't get improve the trajectory over the rest of the month by increased compliance with existing policies and guidelines then Brown said she will be forced to add more restrictions. Brown complimented Lincoln County and said the application to move to phase 2 could go through by Labor Day if current trends hold.
OHA Director Pat Allen and State Epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger spoke about the latest modeling for COVID-19 and other pandemic information. Allen said the latest report shows that the transmission of COVID 19 is slowing and that we are seeing a declining pattern of transmission since the July 4th holiday. While the COVID 19 data shows the state is doing better than many other states, the virus continues to be a significant threat in local communities – and the state is not close to keeping the infection rate at a level needed to reopen schools across Oregon.