Governor Kate Brown on Thursday provided more information on the seven prerequisites counties must meet before they can begin the first phase of reopening certain businesses affected by the Covid-19 shutdowns on a limited basis.
Those criteria include a declining rate of confirmed cases, a testing capacity of at least 30 tests per 10,000 residents each day, an adequate supply of personal protective equipment and hospital capacity to handle a spike in cases and a robust team of “contact tracers” to track each person who tests positive for Covid-19 has come into contact with to limit its spread.
The number of contact tracers each county must have is based on population. Although the final numbers have not yet been released by the governor’s office, it’s estimated that Clackamas County will need to retain between 50 and 60 for the job — about four times as many as their public health department currently has on hand to track infectious diseases, including STDs.
Those counties who meet the criteria and have their plans approved by Governor Brown and the Oregon Health Authority may begin reopening as early as next week — May 15 — but Clackamas County will not be among them. According to a statement Friday, we are at least two weeks from being ready.
“We are working on the Phase I plan to submit to Governor Brown, but this is challenging due to our county’s size and unique make-up,” a statement from the county read. “Per the governor’s guidelines, we must first reach established goals with contact tracing, a decrease in the prevalence of the virus and hospital admission data. We are at least a couple of weeks away from meeting these prerequisites.”
Although much of the responsibility for hitting the reopening criteria rests with the counties and their leaders, Clackamas County says there are things that businesses, city government and even individual citizens can do now to help accelerate the process — or at least be ready when the time comes.
“We ask residents to continue to abide by the governor’s order, to ensure the progress we have made against the virus is not lost,” the county says. “We encourage local businesses to review the governor’s plans and adhere to the required guidelines, to help Clackamas County reopen. Thus, our local mayors need to hear from their businesses about preparation plans prior to planned openings.”
The county understands “people want to return to normal as quickly as possible,” their statement said but, “We must all work together collaboratively to avoid a future spike in infections.”
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