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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announces 14-day statewide 'freeze'

By SARA CLINE
Of The Associated Press/Report for America

SALEM — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday announced a statewide two-week “freeze” which will limit restaurants and bars to take-out only and close gyms, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities during that period.

The freeze will be in effect from Nov. 18 through Dec. 2 and aims to limit group activities and slow the spread of COVID-19. The state is experiencing a spike in coronavirus infections and has reached record high positivity rates so far in November.

“If we do not act immediately, we will soon reach a breaking point," Brown said in a video posted on social media Thursday.

She has long warned about implementing tighter restrictions if Oregon's cases did not decrease. The latest set of restrictions are the most stringent since the start of the pandemic.

As part of the freeze, grocery stores, pharmacies and retail stores are limited to a maximum capacity of 75%. Faith based organizations will also have their capacity reduced to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

However, other facilities — gyms and fitness centers, museums, pools, sports courts, movie theaters, zoos, gardens, aquariums and venues — will have to close their doors completely. McMinnville Aquatic Center will be closed through Dec. 2 because of the governor's new order, for instance.

Restaurants and bars, which had a capacity limit of 50-100 people depending on the county and curfew of 10 p.m., will now be limited to take-out only.

All businesses will be required to close their offices to the public and mandate work-from-home “to the greatest extent possible," Brown said.

Lastly, both indoor and outdoor social get-togethers are limited to six people, total, from no more than two households. In the past, Gov. Brown has described social get-together measures as “self-enforced.”

“These risk reduction measures are critical in limiting the spread of COVID-19, reducing risk in communities more vulnerable to serious illness and death, and helping conserve hospital capacity so that all Oregonians can continue to have access to quality care,” the governor's office said Friday.

The freeze does not apply to barber shops, hair salons, congregate homeless sheltering, outdoor recreation and sports, youth programs, childcare, and K-12 schools that are currently open.

Brown, along with the governors of California and Washington issued travel advisories Friday urging residents to avoid non-essential out-of-state travel and asking people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country.

“COVID-19 does not stop at state lines,“ Brown said. ”As hospitals across the West are stretched to capacity, we must take steps to ensure travelers are not bringing this disease home with them.”

Coronavirus cases in Oregon have been increasing since mid-September and began to surge at an “alarming rate” in November.

On Thursday, Oregon recorded 1,122 new confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19, the first time it had surpassed 1,000 cases. The total number of cases since the start of the pandemic is nearly 54,000. The death toll is 746.

The percent of people testing positive was nearly 12% statewide, more than double what it was in the summer, according to Oregon Health Authority data.

For the past two weeks officials have expressed concerns about nearing hospital capacity in the state.

“There are limitations to what Oregon’s healthcare system can handle,” Dana Hargunani, the health authority’s chief medical officer, said Tuesday.

The Oregon Health Authority reported a record of 303 coronavirus patients in hospitals Friday — a 81% increase since the end of October.

Several major hospitals in Portland have begun curtailing elective surgeries this week amid the surge.

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Cline is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Comments

Rotwang

Riots will also be exempt, again?

MacExPat

AND, If that doesn't work, she will cancel all future holidays until morale improves.

sbagwell

It's not morale we're worried about. It's health and safety.
If the reckless and defiant mask resistors would get with the program, that and potentially sterner measures wouldn't be necessary. Until then, she has my 100% support. I'm in a risk class were I can't afford to be around self-destructive idiots.

Amity fan

I agree sbagwell. We have one such individual as a county commissioner who refuses to wear a mask - simply because the Governor is asking it. Political statements don't stop a pandemic.

RobsNewsRegister

I saw these and found them interesting. Follow the science. I have yet to see a rational justification for keeping our kids out of school. Data is showing inside a classroom with children may be one of the safer places to be during this pandemic. Of course, mitigations will need to be in place for any adult to adult interaction or possibly older [e.g. high schoolers] as we obtain more data.

1st Paragraph: "Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) had said that schools would close if the positivity rate of coronavirus tests in the city passed 3 percent, and it did."

6th Paragraph: "The positivity rate within New York schools, where an aggressive testing program was in place, was below 0.3 percent."

Does this mean that a school setting is ten times safer (on average) because children rarely develop COVID-19?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/11/19/new-york-schools-closed-bars-restaurants-epidemiology/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/13/german-study-covid-19-infection-rate-schools-saxony