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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.

Cases: 348766

Reported Deaths: 4161
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah54797689
Washington37988313
Marion36055444
Clackamas29094304
Lane26966298
Jackson22632300
Deschutes19577123
Umatilla14241144
Linn12380120
Douglas11795240
Josephine9233195
Yamhill8517110
Klamath7709110
Polk715380
Malheur551574
Benton529130
Coos489691
Columbia371343
Jefferson361450
Union313146
Lincoln310638
Wasco281540
Crook274745
Clatsop239529
Baker198028
Tillamook193328
Hood River188337
Morrow181623
Curry178122
Harney108424
Grant97612
Lake89011
Wallowa67012
Gilliam1484
Sherman1463
Wheeler991
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4810682

Reported Deaths: 70604
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles147569426398
Riverside3693444990
San Diego3641044163
San Bernardino3563155566
Orange3227415518
Sacramento1576212279
Santa Clara1445181890
Kern1441461605
Fresno1441232051
Alameda1198871374
San Joaquin1018071708
Ventura1005241164
Contra Costa99234982
Stanislaus851571315
Tulare78945951
San Francisco54031645
San Mateo53828622
Monterey50696582
Solano45761334
Santa Barbara44836521
Merced41781577
Sonoma40711402
Placer38902415
Imperial35642764
Kings32369314
San Luis Obispo29653329
Madera23518281
Butte23364260
Shasta23360334
Santa Cruz20861218
Yolo20147247
Marin17581243
El Dorado16960149
Sutter13775169
Napa12808100
Yuba994282
Tehama9298104
Humboldt9102108
Nevada903990
Mendocino752786
Lassen746346
San Benito737372
Tuolumne673993
Lake6506104
Amador537264
Siskiyou442742
Glenn430330
Calaveras381780
Del Norte356141
Colusa301718
Inyo196739
Mono16445
Plumas15756
Mariposa127315
Trinity86011
Modoc6698
Unassigned1860
Sierra1760
Alpine1020
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