REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Press Conference - Two Week Pause
November 6, 2020
Good afternoon and thank you for being here.
We’re here to give an update on COVID-19, and our next steps to stop its spread. I’m joined by Dr. Dean Sidelinger, our state epidemiologist, and Rachael Banks, the Public Health Director at the Oregon Health Authority.
We’ve seen over the past few weeks that COVID-19 is spreading in Oregon, and unfortunately, at an unprecedented rate.
This is extremely concerning.
Day after day we hit new record highs of cases, topping more than 800 yesterday. It is alarming that the majority of these cases are not linked to any specific outbreaks, but rather reflective of sporadic community spread.
This virus can very quickly snowball out of control. We’re seeing that in real time. Lives are at stake.
Governors across the country are echoing this cry — from New Mexico to Ohio to Rhode Island. Oregonians have made tremendous sacrifices to help each other throughout this pandemic, which is why Oregon has done relatively better than many other states at containing this virus.
We cannot let up now. In fact, we have to go on offense to stop this spread.
That’s why I am announcing a “2 Week Pause” on social activities for counties with more than 200 cases per 100,000 over a two week period, or more than 60 cases for counties with less than 30,000 people. Today, that includes Malheur, Umatilla, Marion, Jackson and Multnomah Counties.
There are five additional counties that are on the cusp of meeting these metrics: Washington, Baker, Union, Clackamas and Linn counties. We will be pulling data for these counties on Monday. Should they meet the same metrics, they too will begin a 2 Week Pause.
The 2 Week Pause is a first step in hopes of controlling the virus. This series of measures is intended to curb human contact — both through reducing the sheer number of people we interact with, and the frequency of those encounters.
● A pause on long-term care facility visits that take place indoors.
● Reducing indoor restaurant capacity to a maximum of 50 people — including both staff and customers — and reducing group sizes that may be seated together to 6 people. Outdoor dining and take-out are encouraged;
● Reducing all indoor recreation activities to 50 people capacity, including: gyms, fitness organizations, and museums;
● I want to clarify that this Pause does not change any of the current rules for faith-based gatherings, at this time.
We are also directing all businesses in these counties to mandate staff to work from home to the greatest extent possible.
Additionally, indoor social get-togethers will be limited to single households only, or a maximum of 6 people — during the Pause.
We have been asking Oregonians over the past several weeks to be mindful of social gatherings as they continue to be the main culprit of community spread in Oregon.
The data is proving that not all Oregonians are listening.
For example, having dinner with 5 friends one night, inviting a few family members over the next day, and then meeting up with your neighbors later that week, while each gathering may be less than 6 people, together those interactions drastically heighten the risk of exposure.
So, let me be very clear: for this 2 Week Pause, please, please stay with your household. For those of you who have scheduled events with other people for this coming weekend, please cancel them. We need your help.
From the outset, our goal has been to save lives and avoid overwhelming our health care systems. When people become ill, we need to ensure there are enough hospital beds, PPE and staff to provide life-saving care.
If we don’t start to see the spread of COVID-19 slow in our communities, we will be well on our way to maxing out hospital capacity.
The 2 Week Pause will go into effect this coming Wednesday, November 11th and continue through November 25th.
I need all Oregonians to understand that additional closures may be imminent if in two weeks we do not see reduced case numbers.
My hope is that we can work together to drive down numbers before the Thanksgiving holiday. Please, if you are making Thanksgiving plans now — use these limits on social gatherings as your guide.
If you have already made plans that don’t fall in this guidance, change them.
This is a wake-up call.
I do not want to have to take further actions to stop the spread of COVID-19, because I know it will have a devastating impact on our businesses, both large and small across the state. But I absolutely will, if necessary, to protect the health and safety of Oregonians.
I am also calling on Congress to pass another COVID relief package immediately upon returning to D.C., including another $600 in enhanced Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation due to the increase of COVID-19 cases and the need for rollbacks nationwide.
I know that any restrictions to our restaurants and businesses is extremely difficult for many people. I do not make these decisions lightly — it keeps me up at night thinking about these increased case numbers and the necessary actions to stop the spread of COVID-19 here in Oregon.
We must stop this virus from spreading. We must preserve our hospital capacity. And we must save lives.
I will now turn it over to Director Banks to go into further detail about the metrics.