COOS COUNTY — With Coos County being one week into its Phase I reopening plan, local health officials have warned that the region is not in the clear yet from the novel coronavirus.
“There seems to be, very anecdotally, I might add … a false sense of security in the Phase I projections," said Eric Gleason, public information officer from Coos Health and Wellness. "As far as the community, you see a lot of regression to much closer contact with people. Maybe even that they’ve forgotten that social distancing is still very important in Phase I.
“We need to ensure that we’re still social distancing, that we’re still doing the preventative measures of this whole process. From beginning to now, the preventative measures have never changed. Part of Phase I is we can do X, Y and Z, provided we can still follow the social distancing guidelines.”
There have been 28 confirmed positive cases of the virus in Coos County, as well as two presumptive positive cases. As of Wednesday, a total of 3,801 cases were reported in Oregon.
“As we reopen parts of our economy, we know and expect that there may be an uptick in new coronavirus cases," said Gov. Kate Brown in a press conference last week. "Reopening any part of our state comes with risk. The virus is still very dangerous and until there is a reliable treatment or vaccine, unfortunately, we will not be able to go back to life as we knew it. Not here in Oregon or, frankly, anywhere."
While restaurants, barber shops, salons and gyms have reopened in limited capacity, safety measures are still in place.
“I think that maybe we said, hey, we’re in Phase I, ‘We can go to the restaurant now,'" Gleason said. "'We did it, it’s over.’ It’s not. It’s really just the beginning as far as what this could mean for our count of cases and we need to be mindful that those preventative measures are still of the utmost importance.
“In order for all us as a community to keep Coos County open, we have got to do it together. We can not forget or slip up now.”
To get to Phase I, counties had to show the ability to show a decline in the prevalence of the coronavirus, an ability to contact trace and sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment among other prerequisites.
If after three weeks in Phase I counties continue to meet these standards, they will enter Phase II. Phase II will further open things up and will allow local gatherings of 100 people. To get to Phase III there will need to be a “reliable treatment or prevention” according to the state.
While Phase III may be in the distance, epidemiologist Brian Leon noted the importance of safety measures in the present.
“As we start getting visitors, really start trickling in and more and more businesses open, you know, it’s really just going to be important to have every layer of protection that we can to keep transmission from going back and forth,” said Leon on the value of wearing a mask.