Clackamas County Not Ready for Phase 2 of Reopening

Now that the governor has revealed her criteria for the second phase of reopening from the Covid-19 shutdowns, Clackamas County officials agreed on one thing during a meeting this week: We are not ready.

Counties that enter phase 2 may hold gatherings of up to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, while indoor and outdoor venues, including theaters and churches, may allow gatherings of up to 250 as long as the standard six feet of physical distancing and other measures can be strictly maintained.

Restaurants and bars will also be allowed to stay open until midnight, while pools, recreational facilities, and activities such as bowling, batting cages and mini-golf may reopen under new guidance.

Governor Kate Brown approved 26 counties for phase 2 reopening Thursday, mostly coastal, central and eastern Oregon areas with populations much smaller than Clackamas County.

On Thursday morning, commissioners heard from the county’s public health officer, Dr. Sarah Present, and Clackamas County Disaster Management Director Nancy Bush about where the county stands in meeting phase 2 indicators for reopening.

“We have not seen the full impact of phase 1 reopening,” said Dr. Present. “But we are seeing an expected increase in cases. I can’t confirm our curve is still fully flattened; it is currently wavy. We have work to do as a community before we are ready to move to phase 2.”

Governor Kate Brown outlined six indicators that counties must meet in order to move into phase 2 reopening — four of which Clackamas County is currently meeting.

However, the county has not met the requirement that new cases must not increase by more than 5 percent over a seven-day period, which officials attributed to recent outbreaks in several areas and ongoing community spread.

The most recent weekly report from Oregon Health Authority did show the sharpest increase in new cases Canby has seen in several weeks, with upticks in other areas as well.

The other indicator the county is missing the mark on has to do with contact tracing. The governor requires counties that enter phase 2 to demonstrate that they have successfully traced at least 70 percent of their most recent cases to a known source of infection.

“This number improved this week, but may fluctuate with ongoing community spread,” a release from the county said. “We still need the community’s help with following public health recommendations to limit spread and to help contact tracers identify sources of new infections.”

The county says residents can continue to help flatten the curve by practicing appropriate physical distancing, washing their hands, wearing face coverings in public, staying home when sick (even with minor symptoms) and cooperating with contact tracers if you or a loved one receive their call.

“We are working hard to keep our community members safe and protect the public during this pandemic,” Bush said. “We need our residents and businesses to work in partnership with us to continue flattening the curve in order to safely enter phase 2.”

We do have time to improve the numbers: Another criterion Clackamas County has not yet met is to have remained at phase 1 for at least 21 days. The county won’t clear that benchmark until June 13.

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