Dear constituents and friends,
It’s not often that I send out two newsletters in the same week and I hope I’m not overloading you. However, there is some important information that I believe I need to share with all of you regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have not already heard, we are at the precipice of what may well become uncontrolled, exponential spread of the virus in Oregon, especially if we do not take drastic measures now.
Over the past few weeks, public health officials have been increasingly alarmed over the rapid increase Oregon is seeing in new cases. Last week alone, the Oregon Health Authority registered a record 42 deaths from COVID-19, and daily case counts have continued to spike. We have had three consecutive days in which the state tracked over 1,000 cases a day, with almost two dozen new deaths. The state’s total now stands at 56,034 since the beginning of the crisis.
393 of those new cases from the past two days were in Multnomah County. As The Oregonian reports here, Multnomah County’s per capita case rate outpaced those of any other West Coast county that is home to a major city.
On Friday, in response to skyrocketing case counts across the state, Governor Brown announced a two-week freeze throughout Oregon and a four-week freeze in Multnomah County to combat the spread of COVID-19 and preserve our hospital capacity. The freeze goes into effect statewide this coming Wednesday, November 18 and will last through Wednesday, December 16 in Multnomah County. After two weeks, the Governor and public health officials will evaluate whether the freeze needs to be extended in certain counties. Some counties where the virus is more prevalent will have to go longer. Multnomah County will be reevaluated after four weeks.
Here is what the freeze means:
- Limit social get-togethers (indoors and outdoors) to no more than six people, total, from no more than two households.
- Limit faith-based organizations to a maximum of 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors.
- Limit eating and drinking establishments to take-out and delivery only.
- Close gyms and fitness organizations.
- Close indoor recreational facilities, museums, indoor entertainment activities, and indoor pools and sports courts.
- Close zoos, gardens, aquariums, outdoor entertainment activities, and outdoor pools.
- Limit grocery stores and pharmacies to a maximum of 75% capacity and encourage curbside pickup.
- Limit retail stores and retail malls (indoor and outdoor) to a maximum of 75% capacity and encourage curbside pickup.
- Close venues that host or facilitate indoor or outdoor events.
- Require all businesses to mandate work-from-home to the greatest extent possible and close offices to the public.
- Prohibit indoor visiting in long-term care facilities (outdoor visitation permitted for supporting quality of life).
The two-week freeze does not change current health and safety protocols for personal services (such as barber shops, hair salons, and non-medical massage therapy), congregate homeless sheltering, outdoor recreation and sports, youth programs, childcare, K-12 schools, K-12 sports currently allowed, current Division 1 and professional athletics exemptions, and higher education — all of which can continue operating under previous guidance issued by the Oregon Health Authority.
Of course, more restrictions could come if we’re not able to get a better handle on this virus in the coming weeks.