Governor Kate Brown on Tuesday extended her Covid-19 emergency declaration in anticipation of a winter surge of new infections and hospitalizations fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant that she and public health officials say could be the worst yet.
The state of emergency, which dates back to March 2020, was extended through June 30, 2022, unless it is rescinded or extended beforehand. Extending the state of emergency declaration maintains Oregon’s ability to access federal relief funds, such as enhanced SNAP benefits, Brown’s announcement said.
“As Oregon prepares for what could be our worst surge in hospitalizations during this pandemic, I know that this is not the beginning of the new year any of us had hoped for,” Brown said.
The governor said she has moved away from managing the Covid-19 pandemic mainly through executive orders toward more standard regulatory tools, such as using existing state powers to implement masking and vaccination rules, deploying the Oregon National Guard to support hospital workers and coordinating with the Oregon Health Authority to bring skilled health care workers to Oregon.
Current statewide rules that remain in effect, including the indoor mask mandate and vaccine requirements for public school teachers and staff and health care workers do not depend on the emergency declaration but are instead covered by agency administrative rules issued under existing state authority.
The announcement came with a plea from the governor for Oregonians to “do their part,” including getting vaccinated for Covid-19 and getting their booster shots.
“Time and again over the last two years, Oregonians have proven that we will stand with each other in our most difficult times,” Brown said. “Your actions have saved lives, and it is because we have worked together to keep each other safe that Oregon still has some of the lowest infection and mortality rates in the nation. Please, do your part again — get vaccinated, get your booster shot and wear a mask.”
The emergency declaration continues to provide flexibility and resources for the state’s Covid-19 response and recovery efforts, including allowing for the use of volunteer medical providers in hospitals and providing flexibility around professional health licensing, Brown said.
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