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Oregon Senate Republicans lobby Gov. Brown to let rural counties 'get back to work'

Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger issued a statement requesting that Governor Brown lift COVID-19 restrictions on rural Oregon counties that have seen few cases.

Posted: Apr 20, 2020 11:02 AM
Updated: Apr 20, 2020 6:00 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Republicans in the Oregon Senate are pressuring Governor Kate Brown to lift coronavirus restrictions on rural Oregon counties, exemplified in a statement issued by Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, R-Grants Pass, on Monday.

“I have been in daily conversations with the Governor advocating for her to lift economic and lifestyle restrictions in rural Oregon and those areas of the state that haven’t been as impacted by COVID-19," Sen. Baertschiger. "The rural districts my caucus and I represent should be able to return to a new normal and get back to work.”

Photo courtesy Lisa McNee / Bureau of Land Management

In early March, Republicans signaled support for the sort of measures that Governor Brown had implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19, with Sen. Baertschiger saying that leaders "are and should be taking measures that have never been taken before."

Since then, and with the virus' spread demonstrably slowed by those measures, the pressure from businesses and workers struggling under the restrictions has been building.

In Sen. Baertschiger's seat of Josephine County, a new positive case of COVID-19 has not been detected in more than a week. In particularly rural areas like Lake and Harney counties, there has yet to be a confirmed case — though access to testing has also been limited.

Last week Governor Brown introduced her "framework" for loosening coronavirus measures, which largely touched on state benchmarks that needed to be reached before any such steps would be taken. Though Brown said that she would be taking input from local leaders and workers from impacted industries, the plan did not touch on a county-by-county rollback of restrictions.

Republican lawmakers have particularly taken umbrage with Brown's announcement of the Western States Pact, an agreement to work with leaders in California and Washington state to make decisions in consultation with one another. Especially in the counties along the Oregon and Washington border, cases have often straddled state lines.

"Let’s do this the Oregon way," said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, in a statement last week. "We cannot give authority to other states, what works in Los Angeles will not work in Enterprise. As we see predictions of the worst recession since the Great Depression, it is essential that we prioritize the unique aspects of this state and our communities."

"My caucus and I are having a difficult time understanding why communities in Oregon that have not been impacted by COVID-19 can’t return to business sooner than others in the state," said Sen. Baertschiger. "Oregon should be addressing conditions on a local level before worrying about what other states are doing.”

In an interview with NewsWatch 12 on Monday, Baertschiger said that he would like to see restrictions lifted on most counties east of the Cascades, and possibly those in southern Oregon.

"I'm really proud of Oregonians because what they have done has really bent the curve on this virus," said Baertschiger. "And I think washing your hands, keeping your distance, if you're sick you stay home — all of those things all add up, and I think that's just how we're going to start living going forward. Does that mean we're going to walk around with masks? Probably not. But I think just being aware of how this disease is spread and doing things to mitigate that will go a long way."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 42101

Reported Deaths: 653
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah9137160
Marion5819108
Washington573975
Umatilla334944
Clackamas309765
Lane235427
Malheur191538
Jackson16696
Deschutes112313
Yamhill98715
Linn80315
Polk65015
Jefferson6049
Morrow5456
Lincoln51713
Union4662
Benton4416
Klamath4103
Douglas3495
Wasco34715
Hood River2771
Josephine2673
Columbia2591
Clatsop2420
Coos2380
Baker1203
Crook1072
Tillamook700
Curry571
Wallowa442
Lake350
Harney230
Sherman180
Gilliam110
Grant110
Wheeler10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 906596

Reported Deaths: 17358
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2997606993
Riverside659021279
San Bernardino626191072
Orange585731447
San Diego54583870
Kern33813416
Fresno30752436
Sacramento25372484
Santa Clara24144388
Alameda23312461
San Joaquin21630489
Contra Costa18621241
Stanislaus17629396
Tulare17495286
Ventura14240164
Imperial12700336
San Francisco12103140
Monterey1137291
San Mateo11075159
Santa Barbara9781120
Merced9465155
Sonoma9312136
Kings822883
Solano728674
Marin7074128
Madera498174
San Luis Obispo414132
Placer409357
Yolo319159
Butte307852
Santa Cruz278825
Napa195715
Shasta187830
Sutter183712
San Benito143715
El Dorado13174
Yuba129310
Mendocino112721
Tehama8728
Lassen7661
Lake69615
Glenn6573
Nevada6088
Humboldt5629
Colusa5506
Calaveras34218
Amador32816
Tuolumne2694
Inyo22715
Siskiyou1930
Mono1802
Del Norte1781
Mariposa782
Plumas680
Modoc290
Trinity250
Sierra60
Alpine30
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
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Brookings
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Grants Pass
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Klamath Falls
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