PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Gov. Kate Brown announced Monday two new measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
Effective immediately, Gov. Brown is mandating that indoor gatherings, such as dinner parties, be limited to a maximum of 10 people. This mandate does not apply to places such as restaurants and churches. Gov. Brown gave an analogy of how personal choices are leading to chains of cases in social circles.
“We are here today to sound the alarm,” Brown said. “The COVID-19 disease is spreading rapidly across the state of Oregon. Each and every one of us needs to take action — immediate action — to slow the spread.”
Effective Wednesday, July 15, Gov. Brown is expanding the statewide mask mandate to include the outdoors when Oregonians are around others outside of their immediate household and when social distancing cannot be achieved.
Today I am sounding the alarm: we are at risk of COVID-19 getting out of control in Oregon.Each of us needs to take immediate action to slow the spread of this disease. Face coverings are required in some outdoor public spaces and indoor social get-togethers are capped at 10. pic.twitter.com/QMrsURfy48— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) July 13, 2020
Gov. Brown's new measures come as the state continues to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases. So far in July, the state has seen more new cases than all of May.
@OregonGovBrown says it's time to "Sound the Alarm" Says the # of #COVID19 cases last week in #Oregon was greater than those recorded in the entire month of May. Continued live coverage on @fox12oregon - the FOX 12 streaming app and https://t.co/WHfVgdSVno https://t.co/do4GxaFEtf— Pete Ferryman (@PeteFerryman) July 13, 2020
According to the Oregon Health Authority, there have been a total of 12,170 confirmed and presumptive cases in the state, along with 234 deaths from the coronavirus.
On Saturday, the state saw the largest single day case count with 409 new cases reported.
The Oregon Health Authority says people in their 20s and 30s are the age groups mostly likely to become sick with the virus. The OHA says two people in their 30s have died from COVID-19.
And while hospitals right now are not overwhelmed with sick patients, officials worry that could happen in the future. The OHA says new COVID-19 cases are expected to triple in the next six weeks.
Brown stressed that how seriously people follow mandates will determine whether people live or die – and whether she’ll impose further limits on day-to-day life.
“It all depends on you. Your choices determine our future. If we don’t slow the spread of the virus, we will have no choice but to force widespread and difficult closures again,” she said.
States like California and Nevada are putting restrictions back in place. Counties in Nevada closed bars over the weekend, and in California, many businesses will be forced to once again suspend their indoor operations and bars must also close.
But in Oregon, officials say they’re not going there yet and they are less worried about businesses than private social gatherings.
“As of right now, these businesses that are implementing and enforcing our safety rules, face coverings, physical distancing, and sanitation do not appear to be the sources of significant transmission. I hope I don’t have to go the route of Texas and California and close bars and restaurants, but nothing, nothing is off the table,” Brown said. “The proof here will be in numbers.”
While Oregon is still low on infection rate compared to other states, Gov. Brown says she doesn't want to get anywhere close to what Texas looks like.
"The rate of COVID-19 transmission is accelerating. New cases are projected to triple in the next 6 weeks – that means more people will get sick, many will become seriously ill and our health care system is threatened with becoming overwhelmed," said OHA Director Patrick Allen.
Allen says the state's testing count is currently 30,000 to 35,000 a week.
"We all want life to return to normal. We all want to spend time with family and friends. But we cannot let COVID-19 get out of control in Oregon and overwhelm our health care system the way we’ve seen it happen in other states," said Allen.
State epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said if you see people you know not following the guidelines, "call them out on it." He also called contact sports "not safe" right now and discouraged any playing in social groups.
Dr. Sidelinger called Gov. Brown's new enhanced measures a "targeted" approach to tackle the spread of the coronavirus in Oregon. New cases have been traced to personal social gatherings and workplace outbreaks.
State officials say they don’t yet have the data to determine whether the Fourth of July holiday will cause a big spike in cases, but they will be carefully assessing the numbers.
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