Governor Kate Brown announced this week that she will extend her Covid-19 emergency declaration for an additional 60 days, which — coincidentally — would carry through to Election Day: Nov. 3.
The declaration is the legal underpinning for the governor’s Covid-19 executive orders and the Oregon Health Authority’s health and safety guidance. Brown has said she will review and reevaluate her emergency orders every 60 days.
In a statement Tuesday, she recalled that she had told Oregonians we were at a crossroads in June: work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon, or watch infections and hospitalizations spike.
“Now, six months after this crisis began, we have made progress,” she acknowledged. “Together, we have slowed the spread of this disease. Oregon has one of the lowest mortality rates in the country.
“But, as students across Oregon begin a school year far different than any other before, it is clear that, at current COVID-19 levels, it will not be safe in much of the state for children to return to in-classroom instruction for months to come.”
This weekend, centered around the Labor Day holiday, is “another critical moment in this crisis,” she said.
“We can work together to stay safe and put Oregon on the path to return more students to classrooms,” she said. “Or, we could see Labor Day celebrations unknowingly sow the seeds of Covid-19 outbreaks that could set us back for months. Until there is an effective vaccine for COVID-19, this disease can spread like wildfire if we let our guard down.”
Small social get-togethers like barbecues and family celebrations have fueled wider community outbreaks across the state, she said. She asked Oregonians to stay local this Labor Day, and practice “safe Covid-19 habits,” including the now-standard admonitions to wear a face covering, maintain physical distance and wash your hands.
“We know this can work,” Governor Brown said. “We have seen it work in rural and urban communities that have experienced significant outbreaks. … We have come this far together. And that’s the only way we’ll get through this — working together, day by day, to keep each other healthy and safe until we reach the day that there is an effective vaccine or treatment for this disease.”
The state of emergency declaration is the legal underpinning for the executive orders the governor has issued throughout the pandemic, including her orders on reopening Oregon while maintaining essential health and safety protections, as well as orders around childcare, schools, and higher education operations.
Extending the state of emergency declaration allows those orders to stay in effect.
The governor said she will continue to review and reevaluate each of her emergency orders every 60 days to determine whether they should be continued, modified, or rescinded.