Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced today (Nov. 13) a “two-week freeze” will begin statewide Nov. 18, during which restaurants must serve take-out and delivery only, social get-togethers will be limited to six people, faith-based gatherings will be limited to 25 indoors and 50 outdoors, and gyms and pools will be closed, as will venues that host indoor and outdoor events.
Grocery stores and pharmacies will be limited to 75-percent capacity, and all indoor visitation at long-term care facilities is prohibited. Personal care providers can remain open under strict adherence to health guidelines.
The new restrictions come as state sees its second straight day with more 1,000 COVID-19 cases after first reaching that milestone on Thursday, when the Oregon Health Authority’s weekly report showed that during the week of Nov. 2 through 8, there were 5,177 new cases, up 46 percent from 3,542 the previous week. Health authority officials say small social gatherings are driving the surge, and during a press conference last week to announce targeted restrictions in the most-effected counties, Brown implored Oregonians to alter or cancel get-together plans for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Friday, the OHA reported 1,076 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 during the previous 24-hour period, including 77 in Lane County and 26 in neighboring Douglas county, bringing the state total to 54,937. The 97424 zip code had a 1-case increase to 88 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Friday (Nov. 13), with 44 cases in the 97426 zip code.
Other new cases include the following counties: Baker (6), Benton (18), Clackamas (95), Clatsop (1), Columbia (4), Coos (6), Crook (3), Curry (1), Deschutes (28), Gilliam (1), Harney (6), Hood River (2), Jackson (91), Jefferson (15), Josephine (7), Klamath (4), Lake (4), Lincoln (2), Linn (15), Malheur (39), Marion (123), Morrow (3), Multnomah (247), Polk (14), Tillamook (4), Umatilla (40), Union (10), Wallowa (2), Wasco (3), Washington (148), and Yamhill (31).
During a press conference Friday, Brown said, “The dreaded winter surge is here,” noting that hospitals are expecting an influx of COVID-19 patients during what could be the “roughest days of the pandemic.”
Becky Hultberg, President and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, voiced her support for the measure.
“With COVID-19 cases soaring across the state, it is imperative that we act now to preserve hospital capacity. We support the Governor’s two-week freeze on social gatherings and the three-state travel advisory announced by Oregon, Washington, and California,” Hultberg said. “If we are not able to slow the spread of COVID-19 now, hospital capacity for all Oregonians could be threatened as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to grow, jeopardizing the availability of care for us all … We urge the public to follow these new guidelines. We know it’s hard, eight months into the pandemic, to limit where we go and how we interact with friends and family. But these steps — combined with social distancing, hand washing, and face coverings when you must leave your home — are essential steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and bring it under control so we can bring normalcy back into our lives.”
In a further bid to stem holiday movement, Brown also announced Friday a travel advisory in coordination with California and Washington. Effective immediately, those entering Oregon from another state for “non-essential travel,” including returning residents, “should limit their interactions to their immediate household” for 14 days, according to the advisory. This recommendation does not apply to individuals who cross state or country borders for essential travel.
Essential travel includes “work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.”
Brown said areas with the highest rates of infection might be under the freeze for longer than two weeks.