In Lane County and throughout Oregon, COVID-19 continues to spread. Last week, Gov. Kate Brown held a press conference to “sound the alarm.”
At a July 22 press conference, Brown used a new metaphor, saying that Oregonians ventured out to the ice as it reopened the economy and now the ice is cracking. Before the state falls into the freezing water of an out-of-control COVID-19, she said she is enacting new restrictions and face masking regulations for children, decreasing indoor gathering groups for indoor venues and possibly limiting interstate tourist travel.
From July 13 to July 18, the Oregon Health Authority reported 2,292 COVID-19 positives. In Lane County, there were 97 positive cases from July 13 to 29. Lane County Public Health said the majority of points of transmissions have occurred at house parties.
Starting Friday, July 24, children ages 2 to 5 are recommended to wear face coverings when indoor and outdoors. Children ages 5 to 12 are required to wear face coverings with the assistance of an adult. This rule could be carried over should in-person schools happen this year.
The Oregon Department of Education sent out a press release after Brown’s announcement. The agency said Brown’s new face covering rule would apply to students from kindergarten to high school. ODE said it will distribute five million face coverings to school districts for use by staff and students. The face coverings were donated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and are not considered medical-grade masks.
The statewide mask exception that applied to activities like pumping iron and working out at gyms will also be pulled, the governor added.
Brown is also lowering allowed indoor gathering numbers from 250 to 100, a limit that impacts religious gatherings and theaters.
Restaurants in counties in the second phase of reopening like Lane were allowed to serve until midnight. But Brown is now lowering it back to 10 pm.
“Some people are going to say this doesn’t go far enough,” she said. “Others will hear the news and say this goes too far. I know every business that has to close earlier or serve fewer will deal with tighter margins.”
Brown also said her team is looking at limiting tourist-related travel from hotspots and neighboring states with high cases (although she didn’t name names, California now has more cases than New York).
Should the state continue to see increased COVID-19 spreading, Brown said more restrictions could come.
“If we don’t slow the spread, I’ll have no choice but to force widespread and difficult closures again,” she said.