REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Oregon Mayors Association (OMA) Welcome
August 6, 2020
Good morning everyone.
I am delighted to share this zoom room with so many of you, including the great Governor Barbara Roberts! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to get together in these unprecedented and challenging times.
A little more than four months ago, though it feels like forty years ago, our nation was rocked by the onset of the COVID-19 virus, which has quickly spread into a global pandemic.
When I first declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus on March 8, there were 14 cases of COVID-19 in Oregon.
Under my Stay at Home order, our state has led the nation in flattening the curve and worked to significantly reduce the intensity of the first wave of the disease.
Together we have prevented more than 70,000 COVID-19 infections and 1,500 hospitalizations.
That’s why Oregon is weathering this crisis better than most of the rest of the country.
However, as we’ve begun to reopen over the past few weeks, we have seen an alarming spread of COVID-19 across Oregon cities, small towns, and rural communities. As of this week, we’re closing in on 20,000 COVID positive cases.
It’s become very clear that the pandemic won’t fade with a change of the season – this is the most prolonged statewide emergency and public health crisis I have ever seen.
I want to thank you all for your service to your fellow Oregonians, and for your patience.
We have all had to make tremendous sacrifices during this pandemic, and you all have been good partners not only with the state but with your counties and local public health authorities.
These are unprecedented times. There’s no playbook, but we're working hard to close the communication gap between the state, the county, and your offices.
Cities and counties are the boots on the ground – truly the first on the scene – responding to COVID-19. Our state partnerships with local officials and emergency managers have been critical to our response to this crisis.
I know that you have been working tirelessly to ensure that families in your cities have what they need to stay safe and healthy.
Like Sublimity, where the city has organized Masks for Neighbors, a group of sewers that provided cloth face masks to every resident of the city, and even some folks in the surrounding areas.
In April alone, I heard that they had made 15,000 masks, even though their town has only 3,000 residents! Go Sublimity go!
And cities around Oregon have been shoring up local funds to support local businesses to help ensure that the Hillsboro, Bend, and Yachats economies can bounce back when it’s safe to do so.
I know that the city of Yachats has launched several local assistance programs to get money to both business owners and workers, including a small business low-interest loan fund, a displaced worker assistance fund and providing some public funds to match money spent at local small businesses.
In addition, a partnership between the city and a local church ensured the community food pantry could stay open and serve the public.
What has happened in Yachats is a great example of how Oregonians come together to help each other in times of need.
I wish I could say that this will be over soon, but as we’ve all witnessed in recent weeks, our struggle is far from over, and is not likely to wane anytime soon.
The latest data model and case counts serve as a sobering reminder that we must remain vigilant, especially as we continue to reopen, the weather stays warm, and people start to get cabin fever.
Unfortunately, this pandemic has exacerbated disparities in our systems that already existed — especially for low-income communities and communities of color.
As we work to build a safer and stronger Oregon, I am committed to putting our historically underserved communities at the forefront of our recovery.
I can’t do this alone. We are relying on dedicated public servants like yourselves to partner with us to take action.
Keep up the great work, and thank you for your dedicated service to the people of Oregon.