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Phase 2 of reopening would allow gatherings of up to 100; 44 new COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County.

The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners voted Monday, June 1, to send a letter to Gov. Kate Brown asking to let the county enter Phase 2 of reopening on Friday, June 5.

The letter says the county meets the criteria to further loosen restrictions on businesses and gatherings. It has enough personal protective equipment for first responders, has 7.5 employees trained to trace the spread of COVID-19, and has no substantive changes to the requirements to enter Phase 1, which it did May 15.

The application comes despite the number of COVID-19 cases in the county growing to 44 over the weekend. Jefferson County Public Health Director Michael Baker said public health officials are working on tracing the new cases, and all of them seem to be connected. Most are in the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, but some are in the rest of the county, as well.

In a June 1 community update, the Warm Springs Health and Wellness Center reported that of 515 tests, 35 were positive, 15 were still pending and three were invalid. The center says 17 people have recovered from the virus.

Baker said he doesn't know if the outbreak will hinder the county's move to Phase 2 or not.

The Phase 2 guidelines aren't set in stone, but they could allow up to 100 people to gather in person, as long as they maintain physical distance.

It would also allow increased office work and limited visitation to long-term care facilities.

All Oregon counties except Multnomah are currently in Phase 1 of reopening. As of Monday morning, Baker, Coos, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Klamath, Lane, Linn, Sherman, Union and Wallowa counties had applied for Phase 2 and were under review by the governor's office and the Oregon Health Authority.

Warm Springs is continuing its stay-home orders and is limiting travel.

"We continue to do random surveillance testing of our high-risk community members," said Hyllis Dauphinais Sr., CEO of Warm Springs Health and Wellness Center in the update. "We will begin a broader surveillance of the CTWS employees, as staff begin to return to work in the coming weeks."

The Tribal Council and COVID-19 Response Team emphasized the importance of quarantining for people who have tested positive, even if they have no symptoms.

"Please, Warm Springs community members, measure the risks before you have a gathering for whatever reason," said Louie Pitt Jr., director of government affairs and planning, in the update. "All it takes is one positive to spread to the others in the gathering. This disease is spread person to person."


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