SALEM, Ore. — At a press conference with state health officials on Friday, Governor Kate Brown called for a two-week "pause" in social activities for five Oregon counties that have seen a sustained spike in coronavirus cases — Jackson County among them.
Brown said that 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. To begin with, this describes Malheur, Umatilla, Marion, Jackson, and Multnomah counties — but another group of counties are on the cusp, Brown said.
“It is alarming that recent high case rates are not linked to any specific outbreaks, but rather reflective of sporadic community spread,” said Governor Brown. “We are seeing in real time how this virus can quickly snowball out of control."
The pause begins on Wednesday, November 11 and extends through Wednesday, November 25, the day before Thanksgiving.
The pause is intended as "a first step" intended to reduce human contact and reduce spread of coronavirus, Brown said. She characterized it as a measure intended to avoid more drastic restrictions.
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.
Working from home is also encouraged in counties under the pause, Brown said. Private social get-togethers are supposed to be limited to a maximum of six people, if including more than one household.
"This is a wake-up call," Brown said.
Friday's numbers, released just before the press conference, were still high — though they did not break the Thursday record. OHA reported 770 new cases and six more fatalities.
“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 COVID-19 cases and the need for rollbacks both here in Oregon and nationwide," Brown said.
A spokesman for Governor Brown's office told NewsWatch 12 that the pause restrictions do not affect schools, though metrics in areas with high case rates, like Jackson County, continue to restrict most in-person instruction.