Oregon Gov. Kate Brown added another 60 days to the clock for her COVID-19 state of emergency, meaning the official declaration won't expire until May 2.
"When I issued my first state of emergency declaration last March, there were 14 known cases of COVID-19 in Oregon," Brown said in a statement on Thursday, Feb. 25. "Today, we have now seen more than 150,000 cases across the state, and, sadly, 2,194 deaths."
The executive order declaring a public health crisis has created the "legal underpinning" for all manner of new rules intended to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus. Brown has issued subsequent executive orders that closed or limited businesses operations, shuttered schools, required facemasks to be worn in public, prohibited price-gouging and modified hospital procedures.
The pandemic's grip on modern life appears to be weakening, however. As recently as Feb. 23, a 34% drop in cases and a 54% decline in deaths statewide allowed 10 of Oregon's 36 counties to drop out of the "extreme risk" tier and into "high risk." Multnomah County just missed the benchmark, which allows for greater capacity in stores and restaurants. But this week, Washington and Clackamas counties were upgraded to "moderate risk."
"Our infection and mortality rates have consistently remained some of the lowest in the country. And, for the first time, COVID-19 critical care units are seeing fewer and fewer patients," Brown said.
Gov. Brown first declared a state of emergency on March 8, 2020, and has extended it five times: on May 1, June 30, Sept. 1, Oct. 27 and Dec. 17. It can be extended again, if need be.
"As we vaccinate thousands of Oregonians each day and reopen more school buildings and businesses as safely as possible, now is not the time to let up our guard," said Brown, citing the risk of new easily-spread COVID-19 variants that have reached Oregon. "We will continue to keep each other safe in the months to come."
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