Kate Brown: Clackamas County decoupled from Metro neighbors
Clackamas County will be able to decouple from its Metro neighbors on reopening metrics, Gov. Kate Brown announced on Wednesday, Nov. 25, as she ordered new restrictions on businesses and social gatherings for "extreme risk" counties to continue beyond the Dec. 2 end date of the original two-week freeze.
Decoupling means if Clackamas County's COVID-19 infection numbers are looking better by the second week of the new four-week freeze, the county could move ahead of Washington and Multnomah counties in reopening its economy and relaxing restrictions on business.
"If Multnomah County's numbers don't improve and ours do, then we could drop to another level, which would be great," said Jim Bernard, Clackamas County chair.
According to Bernard, despite being untethered from the region, he still plans to continue coordinating efforts with fellow tri-county chairs Deborah Kafoury and Kathryn Harrington to work with the state on stemming the spread of the virus.
Bernard told his fellow board members Tuesday that he and the tri-chairs urged Brown to hold off on her new announcement until Monday, Nov. 30 so that the three counties could complete assessments of what the new mandates mean for each of them, but Brown's new announcement and mandated December freezes for 20 of Oregon's 36 went forward anyway.
"This action is swift, and we haven't spent a lot of time analyzing it yet," Bernard said.
Decoupling from the Metro region has been a battle cry for the Clackamas Board of County Commissioners in the war against COVID-19 for several months now, and the topic has surfaced during meetings more than a dozen times in discussions of how Clackamas County will recover from the devastating effects of the shutdown on the local economy.
Bernard said he believes Brown finally accepted their request after realizing that Clackamas County's performance on reopening metrics has been better than that of its neighbors.
As of Wednesday, Nov. 24, Clackamas County had 5,687 positives, 77 deaths and 91,944 negatives. Although Multnomah County is only twice as large as Clackamas County in terms of population, it has nearly three times as many deaths (230) and positive cases (15,561).
Also this week:
More help for businesses in Clackamas County is on its way. The Board of County Commissioners approved Wednesday the release an additional $150,000 of the $17 million the county has received from the CARES Act to allow county officials to distribute more dollars to businesses struggling to make ends meet who weren't able to be funded in the first round of grants that went out last month.
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