By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Bend and Deschutes County could begin to reopen as early as May 15th if there isn’t a surge of new local cases of COVID-19, Bend Mayor Sally Russell said in an email Wednesday.
She said the area could “carefully reopen” under Phase One guidelines if all the criteria put forward by the Oregon Health Authority and the state can be met.
That criteria is:
Declining prevalence of COVID-19: Percentage of hospital admissions must be less than the historic average of the flu for this time of year.
Minimum testing regimen: The county must be able to administer tests at a rate of 30 per 10,000 people per week.
Contact tracing system: Counties must have a minimum of 15 contact tracers for every 100,000 people.
Isolation Facilities: Counties must have hotel rooms available for people who test positive for COVID-19 and who cannot self-isolate.
Finalized Statewide Sector Guidelines: We must adhere to Oregon Health authority guidelines.
Sufficient Healthcare Capacity: To maintain the phased re-opening plan, each region must be able to accommodate a 20% increase in suspected or confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Sufficient PPE Supply: Hospitals must have at least a 30 day PPE supply at all times.
Russell said Deschutes County Public Health and St. Charles Medical Center now must review the plan and determine whether our region meets the seven state prerequisites, which must be met before a county or region can enter phase one.
“To reiterate, reopening cannot happen if Deschutes County experiences a large surge in COVID-19 cases,” Russell said.
Deschutes County has had 81 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 63 of those patients have recovered, according to Deschutes County health officials. As of Wednesday afternoon, St. Charles had just one current COVID patient.
Russell, Redmond Mayor George Endicott and other city officials were planning to hold their second joint weekly press conference Thursday morning at 11 a.m. However, Gov. Kate Brown announced late Wednesday she was planning a news conference at the same time to introduce new guidance for counties and businesses as part of her framework for safely reopening Oregon.
Businesses including in the Phase One reopening plan include health care, retail, restaurants, child care and personal services such as hair and nail salons.
A handful of state parks and recreation areas opened back up on Wednesday.
“Deschutes County, the Bend and Redmond Chambers and Cities, and local leaders are working hard to prepare our community and businesses to re-open our local economy,” Russell said. “We have to do this right the first time. Businesses have told the Chambers and community leaders they can’t afford to open and close again.”
You can see the mayor’s full letter here: