By ANDREW SELSKY
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon governor’s office on Monday circulated its own version of a three-phase federal guideline to lift restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, including allowing childcare facilities to reopen in phase one and possibly restaurants.
The Trump administration guidelines say there first needs to be downward trajectories, during a 14-day period, of influenza-like illnesses, COVID-19-like cases, of documented cases or of positive tests as a percent of total tests, as well as “robust testing and contact tracing.”
Oregon, however, has some counties where there no or few COVID-19 cases.
The draft circulating among state leaders says Oregon will likely use modified metrics, especially for rural counties who have small numbers.
Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s draft plan contains no time frame on when the drop in cases is expected to occur. It says experience in other countries and modelling says reducing social distancing too quickly will create a spike in cases.
The plan comes as Republicans, a minority in the state Legislature, said they are ramping up pressure on the governor to lift economic restrictions on parts of the state that have not been hit as hard by the virus, including rural Oregon.
“The rural districts my caucus and I represent should be able to return to a new normal and get back to work,” said Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr. of Grants Pass.
In the federal guidelines, under phase one restaurants, sports venues, theaters and churches could open, with strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols. But the Oregon draft plan says sports venues, theaters and churches would likely remain closed. However, state officials are looking at allowing sit-down dining.
And while the federal guidelines say bars should remain closed in phase one, Oregon will instead have a work group to propose a phase one plan. Oregon’s many brewpubs, wine tasting rooms and bars have been hit hard economically by Brown’s shutdown order.
Oregon is still evaluating the federal guidelines on phase two and phase three. Under the Trump administration “Opening Up America Guidelines” released last Thursday, in phase two, gatherings can increase to 50 people, nonessential travel can resume, and schools and gyms can open under physical distancing.
Phase three would see mass gatherings size increases, worksites with unrestricted staffing, visitors to nursing homes allowed, restaurants and bars to have more seating.
Brown’s draft plan says all that needs review by the Oregon Health Authority, Brown’s Medical Advisory Panel and local public health officials.
The Oregon Health Authority reported an additional coronavirus death Monday — a 45-year-old Marion County man with underlying medical conditions — raising the overall toll to 75. It also reported 47 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases, raising the total to over 1,950.
Over 40,000 residents have been tested for the coronavirus since the state confirmed its first case on Feb. 28.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.