REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) Meeting
November 17, 2020
Good morning everyone, and thank you for being here today for the annual conference for the Association of Oregon Counties.
You all have been the boots on the ground – truly the first on the scene – responding to the plethora of crises we have endured this year: historic wildfires, a clarion call for racial justice, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our state partnerships with county commissioners, public health officials, and local emergency managers have been critical to our responses as we try to weather 2020.
2020 has tested our abilities as leaders and as humans. Nothing about what we’ve gone through as a state has been easy, and the triple threat of crises has revealed how important government collaboration is to its people. And I’m here today to thank you for your continued partnership, as we work through these challenges.
Each of your communities is struggling with a unique set of issues, and I am very aware of the mental toll this pandemic has taken for folks, especially for our kids.
We must get these case numbers down so that more kids can return to the classroom and get the support they need to succeed.
We all want Oregon to open back up. We all want our students to return to school. We all want to be able to support our small businesses – whether it’s a gym, a restaurant, or a local shop.
However, COVID-19 is spreading too rapidly right now. Our hospitals are being stretched to capacity. And that’s why I implemented the Two-Week Freeze. We must stop the spread of this disease, period.
Please continue to work with your constituents to build community will. In a crisis like a global pandemic, our definition of success has to fundamentally shift. During a fire or flood, we ask people to come together (often in person) to support loved ones and businesses in order to rebuild a community.
In COVID times, success looks like coming together to stay apart. We must stay apart to protect the ones we love most. I know this is challenging, but it’s not forever – just for now.
And we have good news on the horizon: a 95% effective vaccine!
As we plan for eventual vaccine distribution, I’m counting on all of you to work with my team to implement sustainable metrics so that we can support Oregonians and our small businesses alike.
We are currently developing new metrics. We plan to release them next week. We need your feedback this week.
Leah Horner and I will be meeting each and every one of you in your regions. Looking forward to your thoughts, questions, and concerns as we solidify these metrics for statewide implementation.
I know we are all disappointed by Congress’s inability to pass a second relief package. The truth of the matter is that the State is going to reach a financial cliff if we do not receive federal dollars in the next 90 days.
I know your communities are struggling. I’ve sent letters to our congressional delegation to outline the magnitude of this issue, and it would be great if AOC would do the same.
My budget will be released in two weeks. You will see significant investment in pandemic response, wildfire preparedness, resilience, and racial justice.
We plan to continue our open lines of communication in order to support your public health needs.