PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Gov. Kate Brown is defending her decision to implement further restrictions in one-third of Oregon’s counties, saying that for the second week in a row, the state leads the nation with the fastest-growing infection rate and that she is “gravely concerned” about hospital capacity.
In an attempt to slow the spread of the deadly virus, restaurants in 15 counties, including Crook and Deschutes counties, closed indoor dining on Friday and significant capacity reductions were implemented in gym, indoor sports facilities and indoor entertainment space.
“As we are facing widespread cases, driven by new, more contagious variants, I was presented with data showing two paths Oregon could take,” she said. “One in which we took no additional action and stood by while more people die from this disease, and another that required a temporary tightening of restrictions for certain counties but could save hundreds of lives and prevent as many as 450 hospitalizations over the next three weeks. As your Governor, I chose to save lives.”
This week, the Oregon Health Authority reported that the state recorded its fifth straight week where cases have increased by 20% more.
Earlier this week, officials in counties sent back to Extreme Risk sent a letter to the governor asking her to rethink the plan as it was too harshly impacting restaurants and the hospitality industry.
Brown sent a letter to leaders in those counties on Friday, urging them to champion vaccinations.
I encourage you to direct your full energy toward helping your employees, neighbors, family, and colleagues get vaccinated if they haven’t done so yet,” she wrote. “We are working hard to reach all communities with vaccines, especially those that this pandemic has hit hardest. We have more work to do. Too many Oregonians are still not protected against COVID-19, and vaccinations are the best way to protect one another and lift the restrictions this pandemic has forced upon us.”
The governor also touted a $20 million relief plan for businesses impacted by the Extreme Risk restrictions.
“This is real financial assistance for businesses,” she wrote. “For example, a restaurant without outdoor seating that would need to limit business to take-out only can receive a flat dollar amount to make up for lost revenue.”
You can read the full letter below.Extreme Risk Response Letter