ONTARIO, Ore. — Congressman Cliff Bentz on Monday called for Governor Kate Brown to loosen coronavirus restrictions that were raised in 15 Oregon counties at the end of last week. Bentz represents the Second Congressional District — the state's largest district by landmass, covering most of southern, eastern, and central Oregon.
As a delegate to Congress, Rep. Bentz said that he would not normally weigh in on state politics, but he called the most recent restrictions "historically broad in impact" and cited an invitation for input from the Oregon Health Authority.
Bentz pointed to loosened restrictions in other states, and called Brown's proposal of $20 million in aid for impacted businesses "woefully inadequate" for those struggling to survive.
The full statement from Rep. Bentz may be read below:
"In the normal course, as a United States Representative, I would not enter debates regarding state-level politics. However, the Governor’s most recent response to the COVID-19 situation is not only historically broad in impact, but an action that causes far more serious damage than benefit. Additionally, in recent days, the Oregon Health Authority actually invited public input from Oregon’s congressional delegation.
"Governor Kate Brown’s decision to again lockdown huge parts of Oregon has caused incredible frustration for many in my district, and I share their frustration. In a recent letter by Governor Brown, she commended Oregonians for helping make our state 'among the lowest COVID-19 case rates, hospitalizations, and deaths in the nation,' to which she gave credit in 'large part to the actions of Oregonians to take seriously the health and safety measures.' And indeed, today, nearly 70 percent of Oregon’s older population is fully vaccinated and many communities across our state were well on their way to safely returning to some sort of normal. However, Governor Brown has now done completely the opposite of many other states: imposing yet another lockdown.
"Sadly, Governor Brown’s proposed $20 million safety net for those harmed by this most recent lockdown is woefully inadequate for those Oregon businesses struggling to survive. I believe Oregon must reopen and stay open. The reinstatement of the Governor’s shutdown solution will do more harm than good to our loved ones, communities, and our state – especially as risk drops with an ever increasing number of Oregonians being vaccinated. I am calling upon Governor Brown to reverse this unfortunate decision and focus her attention instead on vaccinations and making sure that COVID aid sent to Oregon by the Federal Government be quickly allocated to those in need."