Governor Kate Brown announced Monday, Nov. 9 that Clackamas County will join in taking a two-week pause on social activities in an effort to stem the rapid spread of COVID-19 as infection numbers continue to top record highs.
Clackamas County — in addition to Baker, Union and Washington counties — will join the original five counties identified by Brown in her Nov. 6 announcement as being at a high risk for community spread with a case rate of higher than 200 per 100,000 people over a two-week period.
"We realize that the news of a two-week pause is something Clackamas County residents did not want to hear," said Jim Bernard, Clackamas County chair. "We understand this is disappointing. But it's necessary."
The pause will begin Wednesday, Nov. 1, and last until Wednesday, Nov. 25. It includes measures such as asking residents to significantly reduce social gatherings in their homes, and if they host one, to keep it under six people if they're not part of their household. It also restricts capacity to just 50 people inside businesses such as restaurants, gyms and fitness studios, bowling alleys, ice rinks, pools and museums. All businesses are urged to allow employees to work from home to the extent they can, and a ban on indoor visits to long-term care facilities will also be in place.
"As we continue to see alarmingly high case rates reflective of sporadic community spread, now is the time to implement measures to further reduce gatherings and curb human contact," Brown said in a statement. "The two-week pause measures are designed to reduce the amount of people we interact with and the frequency of those encounters. We all must continue to do our part to stop this virus from spreading, particularly limiting our social gatherings and interactions, or we risk further closures and restrictions."
According to Monday's statement, Clackamas and Washington counties were added to the two-week pause due to their case rates being just under the threshold and both counties registering significant daily case counts in the last several days.
According to county data, Clackamas County is reporting 122 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last week and 80.5 cases per 100,000 people in the previous week. If positive cases continue to increase at this rate (34% increase), Clackamas County may see more than 200 cases per 100,000 people by the end of next week.
"Please don't wait to do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19," said Dr. Sarah Present, county public health officer. "We understand people miss seeing their loved ones, and it's more challenging to wear a face covering and distance when we are with people we trust. However, we are not going to contact trace or test our way out of this pandemic. The change will come when individual behavior changes collectively — that's in our control."
According to health officials, most of those who contract COVID-19 do so from family and friends who are increasingly attending indoor social gatherings and aren't using face coverings. Public health officials find that most positive COVID-19 cases in Clackamas County are from social gatherings large and small. Officials say a two-week pause should help slow the spread of the virus before maxing out hospital capacity, putting a strain on PPE supply chains and requiring further lockdown.
"We've been through a lot in Clackamas County with this deadly disease and devastating wildfires and the resilience of our communities is impressive," Chair Bernard said in a statement. "We're in a tenuous phase with COVID-19 and are asking you to please heed the call for a two-week pause, so we can work to reopen."
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