We find ourselves in an unprecedented public health crisis, a rapidly-evolving global pandemic.
Most of us have never experienced anything like this.
What is clear today is that we must take immediate action to stem the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in our communities.
Our strategy now in Oregon is shifting away from one of containing isolated cases of COVID-19. Now we are focused on preventing the worst impacts of a mass outbreak from coming to pass.
We must act now to protect those who are most vulnerable. Our elderly. Those with underlying health conditions. We need to focus on keeping them safe by ensuring that our health care system has the capacity to treat those hardest-hit by this disease.
Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control issued updated guidance. They gave recommendations on large gatherings, social distancing, workplace practices, and other community-wide mitigation efforts that can help slow the transmission of this virus.
Throughout this crisis, my office has been consulting with the Oregon Health Authority, local public health, and other state and local agencies on the best policies to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Yesterday, we announced a variety of steps for Oregonians to take to decrease risks and protect each other.
The following measures are based on the recommendations of the CDC, Oregon public health experts, epidemiologists, and health professionals to prevent a widespread outbreak of COVID-19.
All large gatherings in the state of Oregon over 250 people will be canceled for four weeks, until April 8th. We have also issued numerous other guidelines for events to keep attendees safe.
I want to clarify that this guidance applies to organized events, but does not apply to other places where other large numbers of people tend to be, such as stores, shopping centers, or schools.
Building on the school guidance my administration released earlier this week that schools stay open. We are adding guidelines that virtually all school group activities and gatherings should be canceled, including field trips, parent meetings, and competitions. These measures have been recommended by public health experts. Considerations of school closures would be a last resort.
Using CDC guidelines as a base, we have issued detailed recommendations for workplaces to immediately implement social distancing measures to protect employees. That includes increased physical space, limited travel and in person meetings, and staggered work schedules.
Long-term care and assisted living facilities should strictly adhere to the guidance issued by the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Human Services earlier this week, to protect residents.
Let me be clear: coronavirus is in our communities. We should be prepared for thousands of cases in Oregon. These actions I’m taking today have two main goals: to slow the transmission of the disease and to preserve hospital capacity for those who will need it most.
My first order of business is to protect the health of Oregonians. My second order: to secure their jobs. I will be pulling together a group of business representatives to devise a plan for how businesses, especially small businesses, will ride this out.
Make no mistake, these efforts to fight coronavirus will have an impact on our daily lives, our livelihoods, and Oregon’s economy. It will be especially difficult for Oregonians without the means to miss work or self-quarantine if necessary.
But these steps can save lives. That is what is at stake.
This disease does not discriminate. We are all facing this together.
My commitment to you today is that I will do everything in my power to keep Oregon families healthy and safe.
I’ll now turn it over to Chair Kafoury. She’s been a fantastic partner in this work and I appreciate her close collaboration.