Urgency. That’s what’s lacking in Governor Brown’s approach to restart the Oregon economy, a definite sense of urgency and certainty. There’s a plan, and there are criteria and sign posts, but the plan says nothing about allowing people to go back to work if those sign posts are missed.
On Thursday the Oregon Health Authority listed “The Three Health Signs We Must See to Reopen Oregon.”
Number 1 was that “we must see fewer Oregonians getting sick from COVID-19.” (The other two had to do with testing and tracing contacts.)
As it happens, the daily reports of new cases and deaths in Linn and Benton counties and statewide have not changed much since March 23, when Brown issued her order for people to stay home and for many retail businesses to close.
Take some dates at random. On April 15, the state reported three new deaths and 33 new cases. On April 26, four more deaths and 58 new cases. On April 30, two deaths and 64 new cases. On May 4, 64 cases, 14 presumed cases and no deaths. On May 9, 79 confirmed cases, 13 presumptive cases, and three new deaths.
There’s been no noticeable decrease. If this continues, despite the stay-home and social-distancing orders and wearing of masks, the end of various restrictions may never come. If it doesn’t come soon, in a big way, Oregon is committing suicide in order to control this illness.
As of Saturday, in our state of more than 4.3 million, there were 3,160 cases of COVID-19 and 127 deaths in which the coronavirus played a role, though how big a role may differ in each case and can’t be precisely known.
The governor says some of her restrictions may end as early as May 15 in counties that meet seven conditions, including a “declining COVID-19 prevalence” as number one. The other conditions are that the health region the county is in meets a minimum goal of so many tests, that the county has a sufficient contact tracing system and enough isolation facilities, that “statewide sector guidelines” have been finalized, and that the county’s region has enough personal protective equipment and the health care capacity to take care of any coronavirus spike.
Nowhere in that elaborate scheme is there anything that says: “And if any of these things can’t be achieved by this date, we’re gonna open up regardless. Because we can’t allow the coronavirus to kill our entire system, a system of citizens working to provide for themselves and to support the public services on which we all rely.” (hh)