By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

County to seek reopening approval

Yamhill County has 50 cases of COVID-19, an increase of five from Friday to Monday, but county commissioners and Public Health Director Lindsey Manfrin say they are comfortable with asking the governor to reopen the county.

At a special meeting Monday afternoon, Manfrin said the county does not currently have anyone hospitalized from the disease.

The state has changed its criteria a few times; currently, it is examining how many cases might strain the county’s resources, rather than overall case numbers, Manfrin said.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the county’s recovery framework and a resolution seeking permission from the state to move to Phase One of reopening, beginning May 15.

“Some people have said to me we’re moving too slowly and other people say we’re moving too quickly and I look at everything that’s happened and I know we’re meeting the requirements,” Commissioner Casey Kulla said.

Gov. Kate Brown also announced on Monday that non-restaurant retail businesses may begin reopening statewide on Friday. Guidelines are posted on the governor’s website.

Manfrin told commissioners the county is not looking at overall cases to make its determination, but at the numbers of people seeking emergency care or needing hospitalization.

The county’s recovery framework states Region Two, which encompasses Yamhill, Marion, Polk, Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties, now has the ability to test 31 of every 10,000 people in a week, which the state considers sufficient. Oregon’s minimum testing requirement is 30 per 10,000, per week.

The state also is requiring a minimum of 15 contact tracers per 100,000 population. Based on that ratio, the county says it will need 16. The county’s plan states that it currently has 13 trained contact tracers, and expects to have three more trained by Wednesday.

Oregon saw an increase of 51 confirmed cases on Monday, and seven presumptive ones, along with three deaths. Since Friday, there have been an additional 265 new confirmed cases, 33 presumptive cases and nine deaths. As of Monday, the state has recorded 3,286 cases and 130 deaths.

The county’s plan also states that the health department is working with other health care providers, including a tribal clinic, to ensure “easy access to testing for underserved communities” by having locations throughout the county.

For those who cannot self-isolate or who have tested positive for COVID-19, Yamhill County has identified two hotels able to house them. The Public Health Management Team evaluates those requiring such services and will monitor their needs for daily living, food, laundry, and medications while in isolation, the county said.

In addition, it states the county will, in some cases, join the Yamhill Community Action Partnership for case management.

The county is also holding weekly calls with all long-term care facilities about the pandemic, to provide technical assistance and guidance, the plan states.

To date, only one long-term care facility in the county has reported cases. Astor House in Newberg has been the location of more than a dozen reported cases, and seven deaths, all among elderly residents with underlying health conditions who were at particularly high risk.

The plan also includes letters from both Providence Newberg Hospital and Willamette Valley Medical Center, stating that they have adequate beds and protective equipment to handle a surge in patients.

Also on Monday, the governor directed state agencies to prepare for a 17% budget cut due to diminishing tax revenues because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Whether the state will need to implement this level of cuts will be dependent on several factors, most importantly the need for additional federal funding to support state services, including our K-12 public school system,” Brown said in a statement Monday.

The next revenue forecast for Oregon is May 20 and the Democratic governor had previously said she was “gravely concerned” about the state’s ability to deliver basic services in the coming months.

Oregon’s economy was booming before the arrival of COVID-19, with unemployment rates at record lows and a $1.5 billion tax surplus. The general fund budget for 2019-2021 is currently about $25 billion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.




It seems as if the County was already open judging from the traffic. As long as we don't have another wave of CO19 or something worse, I'm all in favor of reopening, but let's be safe.


Assuming the prisoners go back into the County jail prior to the grand opening?

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