Gov Orders ‘Pause’ on Social Activities in Five Counties

Gov. Kate Brown on Friday called for a two-week “pause” on social activities for five Oregon counties that have seen a sustained spike in new cases of Covid-19: Malheur, Umatilla, Marion, Jackson and Multnomah.

The “pause” affects counties with more than 200 cases per 100,000 over a two-week period, or more than 60 cases in rural counties, and carries with it a variety of measures that further restrict long-term care facilities, restaurants, recreational venues and private get-togethers.

Clackamas County was not among them — but did show up on her “watch list,” suggesting the area is on the cusp of such action soon if the coronavirus outlook continues to worsen here.

Brown said the Oregon Health Authority will review the Covid-19 metrics for Clackamas and the other four counties — Washington, Baker, Union and Linn — on Monday to determine if they should be included in the pause.

“It is alarming that recent high case rates are not linked to any specific outbreaks, but rather reflective of sporadic community spread,” the governor said at a press conference Friday. “We are seeing in real time how this virus can quickly snowball out of control.”

Included within the pause are a variety of measures — halting indoor visits to long-term care facilities; instituting a 50-person maximum capacity in restaurants, including both patrons and staff, and reducing restaurant party sizes to a maximum of six. Outdoor dining and takeout are strongly encouraged.

There will also be a 50-person capacity for recreational venues like gyms, fitness centers, and museums — however, this does not extend to faith-based gatherings.

The pause measures take effect in the five counties on Wednesday, Nov. 11, and extends through Nov. 25 — the day before Thanksgiving.

The pause is intended as “a first step” intended to reduce human contact and reduce the spread of the coronavirus, Brown said, characterizing it as a measure intended to avoid even more drastic restrictions.

“This is a wake-up call,” Brown said. “We must stop this virus from spreading. We must preserve our hospital capacity. And we must save lives.”

Working from home is also encouraged in counties under the pause, Brown said. Private social get-togethers that involve more than one household are supposed to be limited to a maximum of six people.

Oregon marked a new statewide record for new cases Thursday with 805, then followed it up on Friday with another 770 (though, notably, only 13 were linked to Clackamas County).

Brown also pleaded for more — and immediate — assistance from the federal government.

“I am also calling on Congress to pass another Covid-19 relief package immediately when they return to DC — including another $600 weekly benefit in enhanced Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation — due to the increase of cases and the need for rollbacks both here in Oregon and nationwide,” Brown said.

In a statement after the governor’s remarks Friday, Canby Area Chamber Director Kyle Lang urged area businesses to be thoughtful and intentional about their in-person meetings and private gatherings, in an effort to avoid more damaging restrictions being placed on local businesses.

“It’s been in the community’s social interactions that we’ve seen the most rampant spread,” Lang said. “So, in an effort to protect the economy and the ecosystem of our local businesses, we ask that you simply be intentional with when, how, and with whom you choose to gather. We do NOT need another setback.”

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