In light of the continued spread of COVID-19 in Oregon––including a troubling rise in cases of community spread that cannot be traced and contained––Governor Kate Brown today announced new statewide health and safety measures, including new requirements for face coverings and businesses, effective Friday, July 24. Unless the spread of COVID-19 begins to slow, the Governor made clear that additional restrictions would be necessary.
“Oregon, we ventured out onto the ice together and that ice has begun to crack. Before we fall through the ice, we need to take steps to protect ourselves and our community,” said Governor Kate Brown. “So it’s time for further actions to slow the spread of this disease. Keep in mind, this is not an on or off switch. This disease is something that, for the time being, we must live with. However, when we see numbers rise, we must respond in turn. We must dim the lights. We must scale back, limit our interactions, take more precautions.” Beginning July 24, the following new requirements will apply:
Face coverings will be required for all Oregonians ages five and up in indoor public spaces and outdoors when six feet of distance cannot be maintained.
Face coverings will be required even in cases of physical exertion indoors, and outdoors when six feet of distance cannot be maintained.
The maximum indoor capacity limit is capped at 100 for all venues in Phase II counties and for restaurants and bars in Phase I or II counties.
Restaurants and bars will be required to stop serving customers at 10:00 P.M statewide.
OHA State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger discussed the reasoning behind some of the new rules:Big outbreaks have become less of a factor. Large outbreaks in workplaces, long-term care facilities and other settings account for a diminishing proportion of recent cases. Oregon also has more resources to assist with isolation and quarantine. For people to stay limit the spread of disease to others they often need help with shelter, food and other necessities.
However, sporadic cases are growing. Sporadic cases are people who become infected with COVID-19 and don’t have any epidemiological link to any other known case. As of last week, 47 percent of cases in Oregon can’t be traced to a known case. That means the virus is circulating more widely in the community – diffuse and largely undetected.
Oregon’s contact tracing capacity is under strain. Last week, case investigators were only able to contact 93 percent of new cases within 24 hours of diagnosis, which is below our goal of 95 percent. That dip adds urgency to our efforts to bolster investigation and contact tracing capacity across the state – and our need to contain community spread.