SALEM, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown has further extended her declaration of a state of emergency in Oregon due to the coronavirus — the legal underpinning for all of her executive orders regarding the virus.
The emergency order last 60 days, and Brown has extended it multiple times since March. The newest extension lasts until January 2, 2021.
“As early as January of this year, the Oregon Health Authority began its COVID-19 preparedness efforts as cases spread overseas. Since then, more than 600 Oregonians and over 200,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 — and last week, we set a daily record with 550 new cases," Brown said in a statement. "Extending the COVID-19 state of emergency is not something I do lightly, but we know all too well that not taking action would mean an even greater loss of life. The second wave of COVID-19 has arrived in the United States, and this time it is hitting all of our communities."
The state of emergency survived a legal challenge months ago, after a Baker County Circuit Court judge temporarily rendered it "null and void." The Oregon Supreme Court threw out the Baker County ruling, siding with Brown's ability to issue and continue such a declaration for the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“My goal is to keep Oregon on track to open more schools for in-person instruction for our students — and to continue to reopen, and keep open, our businesses, communities, and economies. Oregon is not an island. Without safety precautions in place, we could quickly see our case counts spike as well," Brown continued. “We must continue to work together and follow the simple steps that have kept us safe throughout this pandemic: washing our hands, wearing face coverings, watching our physical distance, staying home when sick, and avoiding social get-togethers, especially indoors.”
After beginning to drive down case rates and coronavirus test positivity rates in August, Oregon has seen both rise over the course of September and October. Statewide test positivity — the percentage of positive tests out of total tests conducted — reached 6.5 percent last week, well above the 5 percent threshold set by state officials for a full return to in-person schooling.