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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: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5060666

Reported Deaths: 74152
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152491227121
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581504
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus912991413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058629
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
Out of CA00
Medford
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Hi: 53° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 48°
Brookings
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Crater Lake
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Grants Pass
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Klamath Falls
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Fog and stagnant air in the valleys, dry and mild weather continues into Monday
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