Oregon governor issues more limits on social gatherings, warns second lockdown possible


Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced tougher health restrictions on Friday for five counties in response to rising case rates in the state ahead of Thanksgiving festivities.

“We've seen over the past few weeks that COVID-19 is spreading in Oregon and unfortunately it's spreading at an unprecedented rate,” Brown said during a Friday press conference. “We have to go on the offense to stop the spread.”

Brown's new orders encourage all businesses to allow employees to work from home and effectively ends long-term care facility visits for time being.

Restaurant capacity is now set at 50 people for indoor dining and includes customers and staff. Outdoor dining and take-out is recommended.

Indoor capacity for gyms, museums, bowling alleys, and ice rinks will be capped at 50 people and indoor household social gatherings are lied to no more than six people outside of the household.

The new measures will be in effect from November 11 through November 25 in Malheur, Marion, Multnomah, Jackson and Umatilla counties.

“I know the actions now, while they are not shutdowns, will limit people’s ability to come together, and limit the transmission,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger.

On Thursday, Oregon shattered its single-day record for new COVID-19 cases when the Oregon Health Authority reported 805. The previous single-day high was 600 on Oct. 30.

On Friday, the OHA reported 770 new cases of the virus and six more deaths.

OHA Public Health Director Rachael Banks reported that the state now has 204 patients hospitalized with the virus and 55 suspected cases. That is the most cases the state has seen since the pandemic first began, Banks said.

Brown's health orders have spurred litigation from state lawmakers, a private Christian school, and local businesses protesting their constitutionality and strain on the economy.

But the governor warned on Friday that another stay-at-home order is on the table if cases continue to rise ahead of the holidays.

“This is a wake up call,” Brown said. “I do not want to have to take further actions to stop the spread of COVID-19 because of the devastating effect on our businesses, both large and small.”

Oregon health officials on Friday said the pandemic continues to be spread primarily through small social gatherings.

The state saw its first stay-at-home order on March 23 and began accepting county applications for reopening on May 8.

“The data is proving not all Oregonians are listening,” Brown said. “For those of you who have scheduled events with other people for the coming weekend, please cancel them. We need your help.”

The news comes as concerns among public health officials over the spread of COVID-19 in North Idaho persists.

According to a spokesperson for North Idaho's Kootenai Health Hospital, the facility's medical and surgical beds had reached 89% capacity on Thursday.

There are 46 COVID-19 inpatients being treated at Kootenai, at least 14 of which required “critical care,” according to the hospital. There is currently no plan to send COVID-19 inpatients out of state, the spokesperson said.

Per state guidelines, large hospitals and health systems in Oregon must have a 30-day supply of personal protection equipment, and rural or small hospitals must have a 14-day supply.

As of Friday, every Oregon hospital region was meeting the state's goal, according to the OHA.

As of Friday, a total of 3,378 Oregonians have been hospitalized with suspected cases of COVID-19 while 48,608 people in all have contracted it in the state. Another 716 Oregonians total have died from the virus to date.

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