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Oregonians Weary Over Bi-Weekly Changes to COVID-19 Restrictions

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Gov. Kate Brown appears to believe Oregonians enjoy living in a constant state of confusion over COVID-19 restriction rules. Based on the strict standards set by the state’s governor and health officials, Oregon is in the midst of its 4th coronavirus surge. As a result, the bi-weekly risk assessments are used for decision making; the most recent announcement was made on May 4, 2021.

Every time Oregon tightens, then quickly loosens regulations, disgruntled residents and business owners speak out. Not only is there confusion, but quickly evolving rules have prompted an increase in discompliance with “this week’s” mandates.

On May 1, 15 Oregon counties were designated “at extreme risk for COVID-19,” the governor prohibited indoor dining and limited outdoor capacity to 100 people for restaurants and bars. The ruling significantly reduced indoor capacity for churches, schools, and other places where people gather; for example, gyms and theaters were limited to a maximum of six people in the building at one time.

This week, 24 counties fall in the “high risk for COVID-19” category, including the 15 from last week. Restaurants and bars can serve people indoors as well as outdoors effective May 7 – 13, 2021. Indoor capacity cannot exceed 25 percent occupancy or 50 people at the maximum.

Business owners are fed up with the shifting COVID-19 regulations in Oregon. They say closing down for a week or two means giving employees the time off and seeing a significant decrease in sales. Consumers were elated when bars, restaurants, churches, and gyms were reopened, and the economy began to regain its strength.

OregonChairpersons in two of Oregon’s largest counties beseech Gov. Brown for control to reopen their regions. Recently, county leaders asked her to consider another strategy that continues to use science but does not penalize businesses.

In Clackamas County, Oregon’s third most populated, Chairperson, Tootie Smith asserts the governor’s executive orders cause harm. She told her constituents the board would continue to advocate on their behalf.

The county with Oregon’s fifth largest population, Marion County Chair Colm Willis, complains that it does not make sense that the state is still using designations before vaccines became available. He says the governor’s orders are misleading and amount to fear-mongering. He said:

Not only is our case count low, but our case count is also about half of what it was at its peak. Not only do we have a vaccine, but now a large portion of our population is now vaccinated.

She needs to choose to return the authority to make these decisions to the counties. I think she needs to let local communities who have been doing the work, decide what’s best for our community.

It makes sense that Oregonians seek autonomy after being locked down for more than 90 percent of the last 13 months — longer than many other states. When Gov. Brown extended the state of emergency from its recent deadline of May 2 to June 28, county officials stepped up their requests.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

OPB News: Brown announces strictest coronavirus restrictions lifted statewide, starting Friday; by Amelia Templeton and Kate Davidson
KATU 2 ABC News: Oregon governor extends state of emergency for COVID-19 until June 28
KATU 2 ABC News: Counties call on Oregon governor to give them reopening control

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Russ Allen Loar’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Cathy Milne-Ware is the Editor-in-Chief for Frackle Media and lead instructor for St. Agatha's News School. She enjoys helping youth discover their unlocked potential and helping them find their voice. As an instructor, her goal is to teach them the power of words and develop strategies that will serve them in the future by teaching effective communication skills including critical thinking and a sense of belonging. Cathy strives to be an advocate and mentor for each intern.

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