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Kate Brown says the step is required to prepare for a surge in the omicron variant; she rescinded most others in June.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Gov. Kate Brown, center, visits a Forest Grove vaccination clinic in September. Gov. Kate Brown has extended a declaration of emergency as the omicron variant emerges in the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest order will remain in effect through June 30, 2022 — more than two years after the first one, at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 — unless rescinded or extended.

Brown said in a statement released Tuesday, Dec. 21, that the extension was necessary to allow for flexibility in the response to a surge of cases and hospitalizations. But she said the potential surge need not be as severe if people get vaccinated, get a booster shot and wear masks.

"As Oregon prepares for what could be our worst surge in hospitalizations during this pandemic, I know that this is not the beginning of the new year any of us had hoped for," Brown said.

"Time and again over the last two years, Oregonians have proven that we will stand with each other in our most difficult times. Your actions have saved lives, and it is because we have worked together to keep each other safe that Oregon still has some of the lowest infection and mortality rates in the nation."

The declaration will enable the state to use SERV-OR volunteer medical providers in hospitals, provide flexibility in state licensing of health professionals, and ensure access to federal disaster relief funds, such as enhanced food benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Brown had rescinded most of her other COVID-related emergency declarations on June 30.

Some measures aimed at thwarting the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and its variants do not rely on emergency declarations, such as the wearing of masks and mandatory vaccinations for public school staffs and health care workers. They are covered by agency administrative rules issued under existing state laws.

An agreement with unions extended the time for state workers to obtain vaccinations.

Brown did invoke other authority for Oregon National Guard members to support hospital workers, and for the Oregon Health Authority to bring in skilled health-care workers to help hospitals and long-term-care centers.

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