PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The Oregon Health Authority reported 259 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the state on Friday. That's a little lower than the seven day average of 265, and well below the daily case average OHA tracked earlier this month, but it's nowhere near the 60 or so cases Gov. Kate Brown said they need to see in order to reopen schools.
“To keep students, teachers and staff safe in our schools across the state, we need to see a much more rapid decline in case numbers," Brown said. "And we need to see it quickly."
The governor said there are two ways to do this. The first she said she’s more reluctant to do: order further shut downs of businesses like bars and restaurants. She said she also may have to implement travel restrictions.
“Closing businesses across the state, like we did with the Stay Home, Save Lives order, works to control the virus but the economic cost is extraordinary,” Brown said.
The second way to quickly fight the virus, she said, comes in a call to action: the governor asks county officials, community and business leaders to lead by example, educate their communities and enforce her guidelines, like cracking down on social gatherings, which have been the source of outbreaks this summer.
“For example, we’ve heard from communities that local law enforcement are choosing not to wear their face coverings, not to wear their masks," Brown said. "This is absolutely unacceptable and I expect our law enforcement to follow the law. They need to do their jobs. We know that some community leaders, county leaders, elected leaders have pushed back and said they're not going to adhere to these guidelines. Again, we ask everybody to follow these safety guidelines to ensure the health and safety of all Oregonians.”
The governor said she’ll have to add more restrictions if the state cannot improve over the rest of the month. When FOX 12 asked if this meant she’s giving Oregonians a deadline of Aug. 31, Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state epidemiologist, responded.
“To put a hard-and-fast line, to just move everyone back, I think would do a disservice," Sidelinger said. "The progress we’re making is slow. We know we can continue, and with additional people wearing their mask and following their guidance, we know we can get the numbers down even quicker."
OHA Dir. Pat Allen also announced a new partnership that would allow Oregon to process more than 20,000 tests each week. This agreement lasts through December, adding about 400,000 COVID-19 tests.
“Adequate testing is important to slowing the spread of COVID-19," Allen said. "If we cannot test people and get the results back quickly, we lose our ability to take steps to keep the virus at bay."
This partnership will help speed up results, and ensures the state has more capacity to test, as needed.
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