REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Press Conference - Two-Week Freeze
November 13, 2020
We are here to give an urgent update on the COVID-19 crisis sweeping across Oregon. I’m joined by:
● Dr. Dean Sidelinger, our state epidemiologist;
● Dr. Dana Hargunani, Chief Medical Officer from the Oregon Health Authority;
● Dr. Renee Edwards, Chief Medical Officer at the Oregon Health & Science University; and
● Dr. Esther Choo, Emergency Physician and professor at OHSU.
One week ago, I announced a “Two-week Pause” on social activities to slow the spread of COVID-19 in several of our counties. Unfortunately, since then, we've seen an alarming spike in both cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Today we topple 1,000 cases again.
The majority of these cases stem from sporadic community spread — which means that this virus is out there. It is out there lurking amongst us, both visible and not. Every day, it is infecting more and more Oregonians who think they are safely seeing their friends and family.
This is a very dangerous situation.
And our hospitals have been sounding the alarm.
In the Portland metro area, hospitals are expecting an influx of COVID-19 patients. Several hospitals across the state have voluntarily begun to reduce some surgeries to preserve beds and staff capacity.
However, this isn’t just about COVID-19 patients. The next time you need medical care, the last thing you want to hear is that the ambulance has nowhere to go.
This is not just happening in Oregon. The dreaded winter surge is here. Infection records are being set in states across the country. This means we cannot look to other states to share their staffing and hospital beds because they too are experiencing the surge.
Whether we like it or not, we are about to face what might be the roughest days of this pandemic.
If we want to give Oregon a fighting chance, we must take further measures to flatten the curve now.
That’s why I am announcing a “Two-Week Freeze” for the entire state, beginning this Wednesday, November 18th.
The “Two-Week Freeze” includes:
● Limiting restaurants to take-out only;
● Limiting retail, grocery stores and pharmacies to 75% capacity, and strongly encouraging curbside pickup;
● Closing gyms and fitness organizations, as well as venues that host indoor or outdoor events;
● Limiting churches and other faith-based venues to a maximum of 25 people indoors, or 50 outdoors;
● And requiring remote work, if able, for all businesses.
I am also asking Oregonians to wear a mask at all times except when eating and drinking, whether you are indoors or outdoors. The evidence is very clear that masks save lives.
This is in addition to the travel advisory I issued this morning alongside California Governor Newsom and Washington Governor Inslee. We recommend that those who have traveled out of the state self-quarantine for 14 days upon return.
One more key item for the “Two-Week Freeze” is social get-togethers, which are limited to two households, or a maximum of six people.
I know there is a lot of confusion on what that means, so let me be very clear:
This means you should only socialize with one other household. For those of you who live alone, choose up to five other people total to socialize with for the next two weeks, and that is it.
And then when you are together, indoors or outdoors, you still must practice all the public health measures we’ve been drilling home for the past eight months. Physically distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands.
Thanksgiving will fall during this Two-Week Freeze, so let me give an example of what an in-person holiday should look like under these guidelines.
Dan, myself and our new puppy Jory will invite our one other household–– for us, that’s Dan’s daughter and her fiancé––over for dinner. Ideally, we will eat outside. But if our beautiful Oregon delivers its typical November weather, it will likely be raining so we may choose to eat inside.
We will all physically distance, and wear our masks, except when eating and drinking. Hopefully we will ZOOM with my mom and sisters, and Dan’s mom too.
This probably doesn’t look like the Thanksgiving many of us were planning for. And I know that is hard. But it is a necessity right now.
This Freeze is for two weeks statewide, starting on Wednesday, November 18th through Wednesday, December 2nd. Businesses should start now to be in compliance by this Wednesday. After the two weeks, we will reassess what progress we’ve made and what measures may still be necessary.
Given the data and modeling we are seeing, my public health experts tell me that some counties will need longer to flatten the curve.
So, I want to be very clear that there are some COVID-19 hotspot counties that will likely need to stay in the Freeze for much longer than 2 weeks. Multnomah county, for example, will be in this Freeze for at least 4 weeks.
I want to be honest about that now. Be prepared.
Our actions right now, no matter where in the state you live, are critical.
If this sounds and feels similar to our Stay Home, Save Lives order I issued back in March, that’s because it is.
The cycle of this virus is such that if we are seeing case rates topping 1,000 now, and that means our hospitals are headed for very dark days ahead. Actions taken now will help prevent lives from being lost — not just from COVID-19, but from other diseases or accidents that lead people to need hospital-level care, which they won’t be able to get if the beds are full of COVID-19 patients.
But before you panic over the thought of another Stay Home order, let me tell you how we’re doing it differently this time:
● Personal service providers, including physical therapy, chiropractors, and medical spas will remain open with strict guidelines in place. This is an area where we’ve seen very little spread of the virus and is often vital to our health needs;
● We strongly encourage outdoor recreation and camping, and as such, our parks and playgrounds are staying open. Breathing fresh, if not chilly air, will help us all;
● Schools that meet the metrics stay open;
● With much-limited capacity, faith-based gatherings may stay open;
● Child care remains open;
● And with restaurants continuing take-out service, and retail at 75% capacity, I can’t underscore enough how important it is to continue to support our local businesses. Not only will it help them, but it helps us all maintain a sense of normalcy.
● And while social get-togethers are limited to two households or six people, lean on those people you choose to safely intermingle with. And stay connected with those you love, by phone or video-conferencing as much as possible.
I know this is hard, and we are weary. But we are trying to stop this ferocious virus from quickly spreading far and wide, so we can save lives. And in Oregon, we actually can do this.
We’ve done it before.
With that, I will turn it over to Dr. Dean Sidelinger.