Epidemiologists and other experts in the fields of viruses and public health warned the U.S. that the autumn and winter seasons would likely see yet another spike in COVID-19 cases. Now, it’s looking like the predictions were well-founded and Oregon is no exception.
For four days in a row, Oregon has seen extraordinarily high numbers of new cases. 805 on Thursday. 770 cases on Friday. 988 on Saturday. 874 cases on Sunday. The prior single-day record had been 600 (on Oct. 30).
In response to the rise in numbers, on Friday, Governor Kate Brown announced a two-week social activity pause for counties with more than 200 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period. For counties with a population under 30,000 people, the threshold is 60 cases over a two-week period. Today, in light of updated statistics, four more Oregon counties were added to the governor’s initial order, bringing the present total to nine. Washington County is included on the list. The other counties are Baker, Clackamas, Jackson, Malheur, Marion, Multnomah, Umatilla, and Union.
We’ve seen over the past few weeks that COVID-19 is spreading in Oregon and, unfortunately, it’s spreading at an unprecedented rate. …. We have to go on the offense to stop the spread. — Gov. Kate Brown
The ‘pause’ will be in effect from Nov. 11 through Nov. 25.
What does this mean for residents of Washington County over the next two weeks or so? In addition to continued voluntary social distancing and face mask participation:
- All businesses are urged to have employees work from home to the greatest extent possible.
- Visitors to long-term care facilities will not be allowed.
- Inside occupancy at restaurants will be capped at 50 people at any given time (including staff) and the size of parties will be limited to six. Take-out and outdoor dining is strongly urged.
- Other inside activity venues (e.g., fitness facilities, gyms, indoor sports, museums, bowling alleys) will have a maximum occupancy of 50 people at any given time.
- The frequency of social gatherings should be minimized. Additionally, social gatherings should be limited to the members of each individual household. If anyone from outside the household must attend, the total number of people gathered should not exceed six. Then, moving forward, strive to limit the pool for social gatherings to that same six people.
- Current state rules for faith-based gatherings in regard to COVID-19 are unchanged.
Kate Brown said, “I need all Oregonians to understand that additional closures may be imminent in two weeks if we don’t see reduced case counts.” The governor added, “This is a wake-up call. I do not want to have to take further actions to stop the spread of COVID-19 because I know it will have a devastating impact on our businesses, both large and small. But I absolutely will, if necessary, to protect the health and safety of Oregonians.”