Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday signed an executive order extending Oregon’s state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Brown’s initial order, signed March, was set to expire on May 7 but has been extended until July 6.
The prolonged state of emergency will allow the Oregon Health Authority and the Office of Emergency Management more authority to respond to the outbreak and will allow state agencies to implement temporary new rules to deal with the crisis, according to KVAL-TV.
But the governor on Friday also outlined a plan to reopen the state, which she suggested could happen as soon as May 15.
For counties in the state to start reopening they will have to meet certain criteria including having proper contact tracing and access to tests for every Oregon resident. She said this can be accomplised with a new testing system that will assist major hospitals in the state.
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“As we look to reopen Oregon, it’s critical we use science and data to ensure that we can safely take steps forward,” Brown said at a press conference. “Public health experts agree that there are key steps for reopening. At the top of the list is a thorough strategy to test, trace and isolate the virus.”
“The plan also expands Oregon’s testing criteria, so that anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested within 48 to 72 hours. The plan sets the goal of being able to perform 30 tests per week for every 10,000 Oregonians,” said a statement from the governor’s office.
Businesses in Oregon have been closed or required to entirely change the way they operate as a result of the crisis for nearly a month.
Some counties in the state have reported as little as five cases of the virus while others have hundreds. Overall, Oregon has reported a little under 2,600 cases and 104 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
“This is truly uncharted waters for all of us,” said Lincoln County Commissioner Claire Hall. “It still may be a difficult path to get back to something akin to normal but at least we know what we have to do to get there.”