PORTLAND, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown held a press conference on Tuesday to outline her framework on 'reopening Oregon' following Monday's announcement that those decisions would be made in agreement with Washington and California.
Oregon remains under a series of executive orders aimed at limiting the spread of new coronavirus, including a statewide stay-at-home order that has closed or restricted many businesses.
While models from medical researchers suggest that social distancing measures have significantly flattened the curve of infection in Oregon, officials have favored continuing those measures at least into May.
"This is only a framework, and its timing is dependent upon several factors," Brown said of her plans on Tuesday. "As Dr. Anthony Fauci says, 'we don't control the timing, the disease controls the timing.'"
Governor Brown identified three major elements needed in place before the state could begin reopening. First, ensuring that the coronavirus' spread has been effectively slowed, with those metrics to be informed by public health experts and the necessary data. Second, Brown said, the state needs to have an adequate supply of PPE on hand to respond to emerging cases.
Finally, Brown said that Oregon needs to "establish a robust public health framework" — ramping up testing capacity throughout the state, developing a standardized system for contact tracing when someone tests positive, and coming up with an effective isolation program for those who do test positive. That last step would include a plan for senior living facilities that are most at risk.
“We all want to get back to work and return to normal life as quickly as possible,” said Governor Brown. “But the truth is: the best path forward is a cautious one — a path that proceeds gradually, carefully, and incrementally. A path that relies on science and facts to determine each step forward."
In order to reach those goals, Governor Brown said that she would be looking for input from local leaders, as well as meeting with people from the industries most impacted by the current shutdowns.
Oregon officials will be working to complete acceptable COVID-19 metrics for reopening, and making those plans for effective testing, tracing, and isolation. They will also by finalizing "discrete steps" and guidelines for a step-by-step reopening of the state.
“The shuttering of an economy of this scale has never ever happened before," Brown said. "The reopening of an economy of this scale has never ever happened before.”
Those final decision will be made in coordination with Washington and California, as outlined in the recently announced West Coast Pact.
“As we prepare in the months ahead to get Oregon back to work, we must remember the importance of doing so in a smart and deliberate fashion that keeps us moving forward instead of sending us backward,” Brown said.
Brown and OHA health officer Dr. Drew Sidelinger indicated that the state is beginning to see an "adequate capacity" of PPE, but it still faces an enormous demand around the country, making a steady supply line difficult to establish. Regardless, Sidelinger said, it isn't enough yet to take the next steps for reopening.
Oregon is now seeing about 7,000 to 8,000 COVID-19 tests processed each week, Brown said.