The reopening date for Portland, Gresham and the rest of Multnomah County is still just a shot in the dark, authorities say.
"We're keeping the public's trust by not artificially setting a date," Public Health Director Rachael Banks said Wednesday, May 20, one week after the county's last update on the matter. "We are not releasing a date for reopening or a specific day in which we will be submitting our plan to the state of Oregon."
But the march toward the old status quo has made some progress, with the county checking off several tasks that local leaders and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown say must be achieved before reopening.
A 14-day decline in hospital admissions for communities of color has been completed in the past week, plans showing how the county would respond to outbreak scenarios in a shelter, food-processing plant, nursing home and jail have been submitted, and the county now has enough personal protective equipment for first responders.
The number of contract tracers working the phones has increased from 34 to 45, but officials say that's only 36% of what's needed. Multnomah County is also still working to locate enough testing sites in areas with communities of color, and securing PPE for "key constituents" who use health and social service agencies.
Reporters peppered health officials with questions as Chair Deborah Kafoury was absent from this week's briefing. Dr. Jennifer Vines, the lead health officer for the tri-county region, noted that she would "not offer an opinion" on the decisions by the Clackamas and Washington county commissions, who have been less reticent to set a date for reopening.
"That certainly does raise the possibility that people will be crossing county lines for their services," she added.
Both Clackamas and Washington counties will send their phase-one reopening plans to the state by Friday, May 22 at the latest, and the governments hope to open by June 1, the Pamplin Media Group has reported.
Dr. Vines said each county is balancing competing priorities of safety, economic impact and the demands of the citizenry.
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