Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced sweeping new statewide regulations Friday to slow the spread of COVID-19 after the state's second day of reporting more than new 1,000 cases. The two-week regulations bring many businesses back to the capacity they were allowed during the pandemic's early phases.
"The dreaded winter surge is here," Brown said in a press conference Friday. "Infection records are being set in states across the entire country."
The restrictions begin on Nov. 18, and will last for two weeks. The regulations mean:
- Restaurants are limited to takeout-only settings.
- Grocery stores, retail stores and pharmacies are limited to 75 percent capacity.
- Event venues, gyms and indoor recreation facilities will close.
- All businesses should move to work-from-home operations if possible.
- Worship services are limited to 25 people if indoors, and 50 if outdoors.
- Social gatherings may have no more than two households, with a maximum of six people.
The restrictions don't impact schools, which will continue to follow the Oregon Department of Education metrics announced earlier this month. Parks and outdoor spaces will remain open, too, with health officials encouraging outdoor activities when possible.
Barber shops, hair salons, congregate homeless sheltering, outdoor recreation and sports, youth programs and childcare are all untouched by the regulations.
Brown also said Friday that social gatherings should change: Masks should be worn at all times and individuals should practice social distancing when around others.
The restrictions are schedule to last two weeks, to at least Dec. 2, but some counties will be subject to them for longer periods of time. Multnomah County, one of the state's most significant hotspots, will stay in the "freeze" for at least four weeks, Brown said.
The two-weeks include the Thanksgiving holiday, and health officials say plans should be changed to meet the new restrictions and recommendations.
"I know it doesn't look like the Thanksgiving holiday we've been planning for weeks, and I know it's really, really hard, but unfortunately it's a necessity right now," Brown said.
Friday's announcement came after Brown joined Washington Governor Jay Inslee and California Governor Gavin Newsom in issuing a joint travel advisory urging visitors to the states to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and avoid non-essential travel if at all possible.
Esther Choo, an emergency medicine physician at Oregon Health & Sciences University, noted during the press conference Friday the significant toll that the recent rise in cases has taken on hospital capacity and healthcare workers.
"Many of you cheered and rang bells, and put up signs calling us heroes," Choo said, pausing to hold back tears. "And we're so grateful for that. Right now, we're asking you to be our heroes, and to listen to our call for help."
During Friday's press conference, Dean Sidelinger, the Oregon Health Authority's state health officer, announced 1,076 new cases of COVID-19 across the state. It was the second consecutive day that the state reported more than 1,000 cases.
"COVID-19 is ranging across Oregon," Sidelinger said. "What's causing the spread? In two words: Social gatherings."
Brown said Friday that she'd instructed the Oregon State Police to work with local law enforcement to enforce the limits on social gatherings. A violation of the restrictions is a Class C Misdemeanor, she said.
"I know that Oregon can do this because we've done it before," Brown said. "Oregonians have made incredible sacrifices to protect themselves, their family members and their community members, their vulnerable neighbors."
Cases on the rise
The state's daily case record was broken twice since Nov. 6, with 988 cases reported on Nov. 7 and 1,122 reported on Thursday.
Oregon's positive test rate continues to climb, too: By Thursday, just under 12 percent of all individuals getting tested for the virus tested positive, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
Statewide, 753 people have died with the virus, and the state's seen just under 55,000 cases.
Cases are continuing to rise along the South Coast ahead of the holiday season, too.
Coos County reported 38 new cases since Nov. 6, including several from a Halloween party in Douglas County. Wednesday saw 10 new cases reported, likely the most since the pandemic began. It's seen a total of 320 cases.
The majority of those new cases came from the Coos Bay and North Bend areas, according to the state's ZIP code date. Coos Bay's seen 148 cases during the pandemic, and North Bend's seen 92.
Coquille has seen 20 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, and the Bandon-Langlois area has seen 10. Thursday was the first time the Bandon ZIP code had enough cases to be reported under state privacy policies.
Curry County saw 10 new cases in the same time frame. Most were attributed to family groups, according to the county's health department. The county's seen a total of 82 cases of the virus.
Douglas County had a significant increase in cases this week: 153 people were reported to have the virus since Nov. 6, county health data show. 27 of those came on Wednesday alone. The county's seen 589 cases of the virus.
According to the state's ZIP code data, 12 people in the Reedsport area have had the virus since the pandemic began — also the first week that that ZIP code was reported by the state.
Fortunately, the South Coast saw no COVID-related deaths this week. Since the pandemic began, 10 have died in Douglas County, two in Curry and one in Coos County.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.