Gov. Brown’s Framework for Lifting Restrictions, Pact with WA and CA

Today, Gov. Kate Brown streamed a press release detailing a framework for returning to life as normal in Oregon as the COVID-19 curve continues to flatten.  

Brown emphasized that she would be taking a slow, scientific approach and gave no specified timeline as to when she would be lifting the statewide stay-at-home restrictions and business closures. She did make it clear, however, that she wants to see a declining rate of cases, adequate protective gear for healthcare workers, surge capacity in hospitals, increased testing capacity, and better isolation tactics for positive cases before moving forward.  

The governor announced that she would soon be seeking input from local leaders and businesses most affected by the pandemic, in order to decide on best opening tactics and procedures.   

The press release followed yesterday’s announcement that Oregon would ally with two other Pacific States, forming a governor’s pact between Brown and governors Gavin Newsom of California and Jay Inslee of Washington. The three issued the following statement in a joint document:   

“COVID-19 has preyed upon our interconnectedness. In the coming weeks, the West Coast will flip the script on COVID-19 – with our states acting in close coordination and collaboration to ensure the virus can never spread wildly in our communities.  

“We are announcing that California, Oregon and Washington have agreed to work together on a shared approach for reopening our economies – one that identifies clear indicators for communities to restart public life and business.  

“While each state is building a state-specific plan, our states have agreed to the following principles as we build out a West Coast framework:   

“Our residents’ health comes first. As home to one in six Americans and gateway to the rest of the world, the West Coast has an outsized stake in controlling and ultimately defeating COVID-19.  

“Health outcomes and science – not politics – will guide these decisions. Modifications to our states’ stay at home orders must be made based off our understanding of the total health impacts of COVID-19, including: the direct impact of the disease on our communities; the health impact of measures introduced to control the spread in communities—particularly felt by those already experiencing social disadvantage prior to COVID-19; and our health care systems’ ability to ensure care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and other conditions. This effort will be guided by data. We need to see a decline in the rate of spread of the virus before large-scale reopening, and we will be working in coordination to identify the best metrics to guide this.   

“Our states will only be effective by working together. Each state will work with it’s local leaders and communities within its borders to understand what’s happening on the ground and adhere to our agreed upon approach.   

“Through quick and decisive action, each of our states has made significant progress in flattening the curve and slowing the spread of COVID-19 among the broader public. Now, our public health leaders will focus on four goals that will be critical for controlling the virus in the future.   

“Protecting vulnerable populations at risk for severe disease if infected. This includes a concerted effort to prevent and fight outbreaks in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.   

“Ensuring an ability to care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and other conditions. This will require adequate hospital surge capacity and supplies of personal protective equipment.  

“Mitigating the non-direct COVID-19 health impacts, particularly on disadvantaged communities.  

“Protecting the general public by ensuring any successful lifting of interventions includes the development of a system for testing, tracking and isolating. The states will work together to share best practices.  

“COVID-19 doesn’t follow state or national boundaries. It will take every level of government, working together, and a full picture of what’s happening on the ground   

“In the coming days the Governors, their staff and health officials will continue conversations about this regional pact to recovery.”  

By John M. Burt