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Commissioners will hear latest data, advice from health officer Thursday, June 11.

FILE PHOTO - Clackamas County Board of Commissioners

Clackamas County commissioners will wait for new data on COVID-19 infection numbers and advice from the county health officer before making a decision on whether to apply for Phase 2 reopening.

According to Nancy Bush, Clackamas County incident commander, the county's emergency operations center expects to generate those numbers by the afternoon of Wednesday, June 10. Bush and County Health Officer Dr. Sarah Present will present those numbers to the board at its business meeting the following day and give guidance as to whether the county has hit the six indicators set by Gov. Kate Brown to qualify for Phase 2 reopening.

Commissioners have discussed Phase 2 reopening at their last two meetings and have shared some concerns in regard to moving forward. Following the board's June 4 meeting, the county issued a press release stating it is not currently meeting two of the six criteria. Those include indications that new cases have not increased more than 5% in the last seven days, and new infection cases not traced to a known source are below 30% for the last seven days.

According to the release, the number of new cases not traced to a known source over the past seven days did improve last week (June 4), but "may fluctuate with ongoing community spread.

"We still need the community's help with following public health recommendations to limit spread and to help contact tracers identify sources of new infections," the release said.

According to Dr. Present, the county has not yet seen the full impact of Phase 1 reopening, but has seen an expected increase in the number of coronavirus cases.

"I can't confirm our curve is still fully flattened, it is currently wavy," she said. "We have work to do as a community before we are ready to move to Phase 2."

On Tuesday, June 9, commissioners agreed that Clackamas County would need to move independently from its metro-area partners in Washington and Multnomah counties, which both lag well behind in terms of meeting Gov. Kate Brown's criteria for Phase 2 reopening.

They also acknowledged that the recent proliferation of demonstrations over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor — two black Americans killed at the hands of police in recent weeks — could have an impact on infection numbers. Protests sprang up in several Clackamas County communities including Gladstone, Oregon City, Happy Valley, Milwaukie, Estacada, Canby, Lake Oswego and West Linn.

Commissioner Sonya Fischer said that she's been heartened to see most protesters wearing masks, but questioned whether there was any direction from the state as to whether there should be more widespread screening for COVID-19 made available to the protesters.

According to Bernard, neither Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury or Washington County Chair Kathryn Washington indicated they were planning to ramp up testing in response to protests.

According to Bush, the Oregon Health Authority has not communicated any guidelines or calls for expanded testing to local health departments in response to protests at this time either.

Commissioners will take up the discussion again at their virtual business meeting scheduled for Thursday, June 11, at 10 a.m. at which time public comment will be accepted during the citizen communication portion of the meeting. A virtual county listening session will also be held via Zoom Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m.

According to the county's press release last week, community members can help continue to flatten the curve by following safe practices such as:

  • Appropriate physical distancing
  • Washing hands
  • Wearing face coverings when out in the public
  • Staying home when you're sick, even if you are only experiencing minor symptoms – or just aren't sure.
  • Cooperating with public health contact tracers' interviews and recommendations if you do get COVID-19 or are a close contact to someone who does.

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