As of Saturday, May 9, Curry County was one of 20 Oregon counties to submit plans for Phase I of reopening to the state.
Curry County’s 13-page application, including its 10-page plan, is designated as “under review” by the state on its website https://govstatus.egov.com/or-covid-19. If the Governor’s Office and the Oregon Health Authority approve the plan the county can begin Phase I on Friday, May 15. Curry County’s submission can be viewed online and/or downloaded by visiting https://www.oregon.gov/gov/coronavirus/SubmissionstoReopen/Curry-County-Phase-1-Submission.pdf.
The expectation from Curry County officials is that its plan will be approved and is indicating to impacted businesses that they need to be prepared. Guidelines are available online at https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19#collapseOHAGuidance.
On Thursday, May 7, Gov. Kate Brown spoke about the plan for rebuilding a safe and strong Oregon, including new guidance for counties and businesses on the phased reopening process. The guidance is the product of a robust engagement process with stakeholders, doctors, health experts, business owners, and local officials to chart a path forward while keeping Oregonians healthy and safe.
“Today, thanks to millions of Oregonians following the strict physical distancing orders I put in place, I am happy to say these sacrifices have prevented as many as 70,000 COVID-19 infections, and 1,500 hospitalizations in Oregon,” said Gov. Brown. “We are on track in meeting the goals that doctors and public health experts have laid out for us. And that means we now have the opportunity to begin rebuilding a safe and strong Oregon.”
Curry County has had four confirmed COVID-19 cases and zero deaths. All four are considered recovered. The last confirmed case in the county was made public on April 18.
Phase I Details
Also, some counties will be eligible to begin the limited reopening of additional business sectors beginning as early as May 15 if they have demonstrated they have met all prerequisites for reopening. Oregon counties could begin submitting applications on Friday, May 8. Counties must:
• Show a decline in COVID-19 or have fewer than 5 hospitalizations;
• Have sufficient COVID-19 testing and contact tracing capability;
• Establish plans for the isolation and quarantine of new cases;
• Have the hospital capacity to handle any surge in COVID-19 cases;
• Have enough personal protective equipment for health care workers.
Curry County officials stated “target met” and provided information to support this for each of the Phase I details.
“This Reopening Strategy Plan outlines the efforts, actual and planned, of healthcare system partners and Curry County Public Health to respond to the COVID-19 crisis,” the county stated in the plan.
Letters from Curry County Public Health Administrator Sherrie Ward and Curry Health Network CEO Ginny Williams were included in Curry County’s application.
Ward stated that Curry County's “medical care and first responders have met the prerequisites for Phase I.”
Williams in correspondence to Curry County Commissioners stated, “that Curry Health Network and Curry General Hospital has committed the organization to daily reporting of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Oregon Health Authority, and that it has adequate and steadily replenishable supply of PPE in addition to a well-developed and detailed plan that provides for adequate hospital bed capacity in the event of patient surge.”
Gov. Brown’s new guidance on reopening calls for the widespread use of face coverings, maintaining a physical distance of six feet between individuals as much as possible and following good hygiene and disinfection practices.
Curry County’s “General Guidance for the Public” included social distancing, but did not mention face coverings.
Counties that meet all of the above criteria will be eligible to enter Phase I of reopening on May 15, pending approval of their application by the Governor after recommendations from the Oregon Health Authority, according to the Governor’s Office. In Phase I, counties can begin the limited reopening of the following sectors under specific safety guidelines:
• Restaurants and bars for sit-down service;
• Personal care and services businesses, including barbers and salons;
• In-person gatherings of up to 25 people.
Counties must remain in Phase I for at least 21 days before becoming eligible to advance to Phase II. If counties begin to see significant increases in COVID-19 cases or community spread, the Oregon Health Authority will work with local public health officials to evaluate what actions should be taken. Significant growth in COVID-19 spread could necessitate a county moving back from Phase I to a stay-home status. More details on Phases II and III are forthcoming.
The governor also announced that large gatherings such as conventions, festivals, and major concerts and live audience sporting events will need to be canceled at least through September. Restarting events of this size will require a reliable treatment or prevention, like a vaccine, which is many months off. Further guidance on large events will be provided in the coming months.
Gov. Brown emphasized that by taking steps gradually and carefully and following science and data, Oregon can begin to reopen safely.
"But let me be very clear: these choices are not easy; as we reopen parts of our economy, we know and expect that there may be an uptick in new coronavirus cases," said Gov. Brown. "That’s why we have to be prepared in every single corner of the state because as we’ve seen, an outbreak can occur anywhere."