REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Coronavirus Press Conference
March 19, 2020
Good morning everyone.
A quick update on the executive orders I announced yesterday:
First, I directed all Oregon hospitals, outpatient clinics, and health care providers, including dentists and veterinarians, to cease all non-emergency procedures to preserve surgical masks, gowns and gloves for health care workers treating COVID-19.
It is critical that we are preserving every single piece of PPE available in our state so health care workers can safely treat COVID-19 patients.
The surge in demand of supplies that hospitals have will quickly outstrip the limited PPE they have available, and we are doing everything we can to prevent that from happening.
Thank you to all the health care providers, dentists, veterinarians and even contractors for donating these critical supplies.
The executive order also limits visitation in hospitals to protect health care workers and at-risk patients from the spread of COVID-19.
Second, I announced an executive order directing Oregon’s higher education institutions to move their curriculum to online learning through April 28. This will prohibit in-person classroom interactions as a way to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
The executive order also limits on-campus operations to critical functions, such as dining services and dorms. This is really important as some students don’t have other housing options. We want to make sure they have a safe place to live and eat through this crisis. Those spaces will follow strict social distancing measures.
I know our students have worked so hard this school year and I want them to know we are doing everything we can to help them safely finish their terms.
Especially our seniors, who are getting ready to graduate this spring. Our universities and community colleges are working to make sure they can get their diplomas.
- Today the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is announcing a gradual closure of all State Park Campgrounds. Day use areas will remain open.
- I organized a teleconference meeting yesterday afternoon with state and Metro-area public health experts to discuss social distancing. There was agreement from the professionals that our current focus should be on communicating and enforcing the current aggressive social distancing measures that have been put in place. I have already restricted Oregonians activity significantly. It is important that they follow the guidelines to protect themselves and their neighbors. Literally, it’s a matter of saving lives.
- We are not moving forward at this time with a shelter in place directive. Still, to make sure we are prepared if that is necessary in the future, I am calling an interagency group to create a definition of essential businesses. We have received dozens of letters from businesses and their associations lately asking to be treated as an essential business. I want them to know that we will look carefully at their request and do this evaluation in an orderly fashion. We will take a look at what the Bay Area counties have done as well. I want to emphasize that this is only preparatory and we are not considering a shelter-in-place order at this time, but we do want to be prepared.
With that, I’ll open up for questions.