Clackamas County speculates over governor's announcement
Clackamas County's Board of Commissioners once again held off on any decision to apply for Phase 2 reopening during a policy discussion July 21.
Part of the reason for the board's continued deference is speculation over a forthcoming announcement from Gov. Kate Brown set for tomorrow on new reopening guidelines could see some counties rolled back into previous phases.
County Board Chair Jim Bernard said during an update on the county's COVID-19 infection numbers and reopening status that he was on a call with state leaders on Monday when he heard about several new statewide directives that could be coming down from Brown's office. They include lowering the limit on the size of gatherings, imposing a 10 p.m. curfew on all bars and increasing enforcement of rules around social distancing and personal face coverings in grocery stores and workplaces.
According to Bernard, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Occupational Safety and Health Administration are being deployed to help bolster enforcement in those areas.
"(Businesses) are where people are having the issue mostly, in the workplace," Bernard said. "So I anticipate you're going to hear that tomorrow."
Bernard also told his fellow board members that he spoke with Congressman Kurt Schrader on Tuesday morning about the status of any federal support for counties like Clackamas that haven't received any funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. According to Benard, there hasn't been much movement on that front, but the county needs to sign an intergovernmental agreement — set for the board's Thursday, July 23, business meeting — before it gets any money.
"We figure we're going to be $45 million short," Bernard said. "So we need that money."
Bernard said that Schrader told him and others Tuesday that the U.S. House of Representatives' upcoming coronavirus relief bill is going to specifically identify money for counties and local governments.
The board of commissioners in recent weeks have expressed a desire to be decoupled from its metro neighbors in Multnomah and Washington counties, but according to Commissioner Ken Humberston, the county's rising infection numbers don't give it any bargaining power in asking the governor and Oregon Health Authority to consider their request.
"As long as (our numbers) continue to go up and we're not meeting metrics, I don't see where we provide the governor or OHA an avenue to allow us to decouple," he said.
UPDATE 3:59 P.M.: Gov. Kate Brown has announced a press availability for 11 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, July 22, to discuss Oregon's efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. She will be joined by representatives from the Oregon Health Authority.
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