Most Oregon counties will be reopening Friday, May 15; Marion County is not among them.
County officials said Thursday that Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority determined that Marion County's application for a limited reopening sent to the governor last week has been deferred.
A Marion County news release noted: "While many counties across Oregon will begin reopening on May 15, others, including Marion and Polk counties, will not yet reopen. Our application will be reviewed by the state again next Wednesday."
The county's announcement came as a similar news release issued by the Oregon Senate Republicans said that 28 counties would be reopening under the provisions of Phase I stipulations outlined by OHA and the governor's office last week.
Marion and Polk counties were the only counties with applications that were deferred. Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties did not apply to reopen. Jefferson, Umatilla and Morrow counties had applications that initially were under review but were subsequently approved for reopening.
Marion County Policy Analyst Chad Ball said statewide and in Marion County, some standalone "Main Street" retail businesses, such as furniture stores, art galleries, jewelry stores and boutiques, can reopen May 15 if they agree to follow safety guidelines. He added that child care, summer school, camps and youth programs also can reopen with specific limitations and guidelines.
"We also want our community to know that all county parks and boat ramps will be open for day use beginning May 15 — playgrounds will remain closed," Ball said.
"My heart goes out to all of the people who have been affected by this virus, including all of the family-owned businesses and their employees who have not had a paycheck for more than two months," said Colm Willis, Marion County board of commissioners chair. "We will continue to do everything we can to fight the spread of COVID-19 in our community and get the people of Marion County back to work as soon as possible."
Willis stressed that the county remains committed to working with the governor's office, OHA and local health and community partners.
"We are reviewing the information provided by the governor's office and are considering all of our options in moving forward toward timely reopening," Ball said.
OHA data indicate that Marion County has seen the highest number of COVID-19 positive testings per capita among Oregon counties, especially in the northern part of the county.
The county's Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Division Director Katrina Rothenberger said Wednesday that the county had 711 positive COVID-19 tests and 723 presumptive cases; 5,708 negative tests and 23 deaths. There have been 245 new cases within the last two weeks, 19 of whom have been hospitalized.
"We have a lot of partners in north county who have mobilized, so Woodburn Ambulance is doing testing events up in Woodburn," Rothenberger said, adding that the county has dedicated extra resources and protective gear, such as masks, to the north-county region.
"We're really trying to get some cloth face coverings and surgical masks up to folks who are unable to social distance or folks who are working in farms and other factory settings so they feel more comfortable and able to help prevent the spread of disease," Rothenberger said.
The BOC is working in conjunction with chambers of commerce to that end.
"Marion County commissioners donated 2,000 face masks for distribution to Woodburn-area businesses who need them to reopen," Chamber Director John Zobrist said.
In counties not entering Phase I, the following guidelines take effect or remain in effect beginning May 15:
• Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and credit unions, and gas stations are all open.
• Restaurants are open for takeout service only.
• Standalone retail operations are open provided they meet required safety and physical distancing guidelines.
• Indoor and outdoor malls are closed.
• Local outdoor recreation activities are open, including many state parks.
• Non-emergency medical care, dentist offices and veterinary care are open and operating, provided they meet required safety guidelines.
• Local cultural, civic and faith gatherings are allowed for up to 25 people provided physical distancing can be in place.
• Local social gatherings over 10 people are prohibited, and those under 10 people must use physical distancing.
• Personal care services such as salons and barbers, as well as gyms, are closed.
• Child care is open under certain restrictions, with priority placements for children of health care workers, first responders, and frontline workers.
• Summer camp and summer school program guidelines are forthcoming.
Phase I counties
In counties approved for Phase I, the following additional areas can operate if they comply with sector-specific health and safety guidance beginning May 15:
• Restaurants, bars and other such establishments for dine-in service until 10 p.m.
• Personal services businesses
• All retail businesses, including malls and shopping centers
• Gyms and other fitness facilities
• Local gatherings of up to 25 people
Gyms and fitness guidance
Gyms and other fitness facilities in counties that have reopened for Phase I will be required to follow new health and safety guidance as well.
— Office of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown
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