MEDFORD, Ore. — The same day that Governor Kate Brown unveiled Oregon's specific Phase One plans for reopening, Jackson County submitted its own proposal to the Governor's office to be considered for entering that phase on May 15.
Most counties in southern Oregon had already submitted their plans this week or earlier — including Lake, Josephine, Klamath and Curry. Regardless, the Governor has stipulated that the earliest any county will enter Phase One is next Friday.
Jackson County's plan was submitted electronically by County administrator Danny Jorden attached to an introductory letter on Thursday.
"Jackson County is currently meeting, and we believe will continue to meet, the seven prerequisites found in the Prerequisites for a Phased Reopening of Oregon and feel that this status and plan demonstrates that," Jordan wrote. "Jackson County is ready to safely reopen at a Phase 1 level."
According to the county's proposal, emergency department visits peaked in Jackson County over the week of March 15-22 and have been steadily declining ever since — for both COVID and other types of admissions.
"A clear declining trend in confirmed [COVID-19] and suspect admissions is evident [over the past 4.5 weeks]," the plan states. "Confirmed COVID-19 hospitalized cases have remained very low — one or less since April 13."
Jackson County estimates that it has capacity to run at least 1,000 tests per week with rapid turnaround due to the regional medical resources available, at a "conservative estimate." Asante, Providence, and La Clinica are each cited for their out-patient testing ability, in addition to a contract with Mercy Flights for at-home sample collection.
"The prerequisite requirement for Reopening Oregon requires a testing capacity of at least 30 tests per 10,000 population per week," the County says. "For Jackson County, this equates to a needed testing capacity of 660 tests per week, well below our current minimum capacity estimate of 1,000 tests per week."
According to the County's proposal Asante has furnished enough contact tracers to meet the 33 required for the areas, and they are working on expanding the program should there be a surge in cases.
"The Jackson County Board of Commissioners respectfully requests that you, Governor Brown, grant an exception to Executive Order No. 20-12, or take whatever other action is necessary, to allow Jackson County's businesses, non-profits, governmental entities and, most importantly, its individual citizens and residents to reopen under Phase 1 guidelines," Jordan concluded. "These have been challenging times across our County, the State, and the nation and your assistance is appreciated."
According to Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen, it's "safe to assume that the majority of Oregon counties" will likely be ready to enter Phase One by next Friday, though he claimed that OHA had not yet received any applications for reopening.