As Oregon starts reopening, OSPIRG pushes for cautious approach

Media Contacts
Numi Lee Griffith

We must be prepared to quickly lock down again if and when new outbreaks arise


SALEM, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority approved 28 counties’ proposals to move to “Phase One” of the State’s “Reopen Oregon” plan, with some restrictions lifting Friday on personal gatherings, restaurants, gyms and personal service providers. Of the remaining eight counties, three (in the Portland Metro Area) have not applied to lift restrictions, two (Marion and Polk) were rejected, and three (Jefferson, Morrow and Umatilla) require additional review.

Marion and Polk counties’ proposals were rejected because testing data over the last two weeks suggests that there is an ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Counties approved to move to Phase One must meet state testing and health system capacity benchmarks for a further 21 days before moving to “Phase Two” and lifting restrictions further.  The governor’s office has not released detailed information on Phase Two as of today.

OSPIRG Health Care Advocate Numi Lee Griffith issued the following statement on the governor’s decision:

“OSPIRG supports Gov. Brown’s cautious approach to lifting social distancing restrictions imposed through Oregon’s ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ order. However, as the governor has acknowledged, this does not mean the coronavirus epidemic is over, and the state as a whole has not met several benchmarks that public health experts recommend states meet before reopening. 

“While most of the counties approved for reopening appear to have hit the benchmarks to loosen restrictions, we’re concerned that Deschutes County may be reopening too quickly. The publicly-available application from the county did not clearly explain how it will expand its existing staff of six contact tracers up to the 30 expressly required by the ‘Reopen Oregon’ framework. The state must monitor conditions in Phase One counties, and immediately impose new restrictions when outbreaks arise. We have to be absolutely sure that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train.”