SALEM, OR (KPTV) – On Friday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown laid out guidelines for counties to begin reopening, something she said could happen as soon as May 15. The governor’s office says four counties–Harney, Douglas, Umatilla, and Baker–have sent letters to the governor outlining their plan to reopen.
Oregon businesses have remained closed, changed the way they operate, and laid off worker for the better part of a month. Some Oregon counties like Baker have had zero reported cases, while other counties have hundreds.
In order for counties to begin slowly reopening, they must meet certain criteria. The county must have adequate contact tracing and testing capability. They must also have a declining prevalence of COVID-19 if the county has more than five cases. Those counties with less than five don’t need to show that. Counties must also have sufficient PPE and, on a regional level, must show they have sufficient hospital capacity.
“This is truly uncharted waters for all of us,” Lincoln County Commissioner Claire Hall said.
Lincoln County on the Oregon coast has had just five confirmed cases. Right now, county leaders and health officials are looking at what they need to do get life back on track.
“It still may be a difficult path to get back to something akin to normal but at least we know what we have to do to get there,” Hall said.
The worry for coastal communities and those who rely on tourism is being able to open and find a balance with allowing hospitals. Many coastal towns don’t have the hospital systems to handle a spike in cases. Lincoln County is working with hotels and restaurants on best practices for when any opening may happen.
“There is active planning now, really gearing up to look at when we can reopen," Hall said. "It is probably going to be more like turning a dial rather than flipping a switch."
Lincoln County recently extended its ban on short term rentals, which includes hotels, to May 31. As the county sorts things out and puts a plan together they are asking people to avoid coming to the coast until they are ready and feel it is safe.
“We love our visitors, we love the fact that they love the coast, but it is just not the time yet," Hall said. "The coast will be here when it is safe for all of us to welcome you back."
For more information on the governors guidelines: https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19.
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