COVID-19: State hospitals group urges Brown to order shelter in place; she says not yet

The leader of Oregon’s 62 acute care hospitals is urging Gov. Kate Brown to “take the strongest possible action” and order residents to shelter in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Becky Hultberg, President and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (OAHHS), said the state needs to do more to encourage social distancing.

“Hospitals and health systems are preparing for a surge in COVID-19 patients and it is critical that we have the capacity to care for those patients and others who present at our facilities,” Hultberg said in a statment. “Mortality is higher when the health system gets overwhelmed. We must act now to save lives.”

Brown said Thursday in a call with the news media that she doesn’t currently plan to issue a statewide order for people to shelter in place to slow the spread of coronavirus.

She said, however, that if Oregonians don’t take the social distancing measures seriously, she may have to consider such a step.

Brown has already ordered a six-week statewide school closure, a ban on gatherings of more than 25 people and shutdown of bar and restaurant operations other than takeout and delivery for at least four weeks.

“I am asking Oregonians to comply with the aggressive social distancing measures that we have in place,” Brown said. “My message to Oregonians is that by complying with these measures, you will save lives and one of those lives could be your own.”

Hultberg said if the state isn’t conducting widespread testing and not able to isolate patients, more steps need to be taken to keep Oregonians safe.

“Yesterday, our board recommended that the Governor take the strongest possible action when it comes to social distancing measures now,” she said. “We support action on the state or local level to further limit retail commerce, unnecessary travel, and adopt ‘shelter in place‘ strategies.”



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