Health and Science

Oregon orders two-week 'freeze' across state amid 'alarming spike' in Covid cases and hospitalizations

Key Points
  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday announced a "two-week freeze" on most activities and nonessential business across the state.
  • The new restrictions will shutter gyms and indoor dining as well as place capacity limits on retailers, grocery stores, pharmacies and places of worship, Brown said.
  • Schools "that meet the metrics" and child care will remain open, she said.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, in Portland, Ore.
Cathy Cheney | Portland Business Journal | AP

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday announced a "two-week freeze" on most activities and nonessential business across the state to curb what she described as an "alarming spike" in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

The new restrictions, which are set to start Wednesday and run through Dec. 2, limits restaurants to takeout service only; limits retailers, grocery stores and pharmacies to 75% capacity; closes gyms, fitness centers and indoor and outdoor event centers; limits attendance at places of worship and requires other businesses to use remote work as much as possible, Brown said at a news briefing.

"One week ago, I announced a two-week pause on social activities to slow the spread of Covid-19 in several of our counties across the state," Brown said. "Unfortunately, since then, we've seen an alarming spike in both cases and Covid-19 hospitalizations."

The new restrictions also limit social gatherings to two households or a maximum of six people, Brown added. She said "some Covid-19 hot-spot counties" will remain in the freeze for longer than two weeks and people should be prepared for that.

Brown also urged all residents to wear a mask all the time, both indoors and outdoors, except when eating and drinking.

"The evidence is very, very clear that masks save lives," she said.

The new restrictions are in addition to the coronavirus travel advisory, which was jointly issued by the governors of California, Oregon and Washington earlier on Friday. That advisory urges people arriving in their states to self-quarantine for 14 days. It also asks residents to avoid all nonessential travel out of the state.

In the spring, the Covid-19 outbreak prompted widespread restrictions and stay-at-home orders. As the virus resurges this fall, state and city officials have taken more targeted action to address the rise in cases and hospitalizations. Chicago on Thursday announced a stay-at-home advisory for all residents. New York, New Jersey and several other states have gone the route of implementing a curfew for restaurants and bars.

But Oregon's new restrictions are among the most sweeping actions taken this fall to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

"If this all sounds familiar to our Stay Home, Save Lives order I issued back in March, that's because it is," she said. "The cycle of this virus is such that we are seeing case rates topping 1,000 per day now and that means our hospitals are headed for some very dark days ahead."

However, the new restrictions differ from those seen in March in meaningful ways, Brown said. Personal service providers, such as physical therapists, chiropractors and medical spas will remain open under the current restrictions, she said. The state's parks and playgrounds will also remain open for outdoor recreation, she added.

Schools "that meet the metrics" and child care will also remain open, she said.

"I know it's hard, and I know everybody is weary, but we are trying to stop this ferocious virus from spreading even more quickly and far wide and to save lives," she said. "We've done it before. We can do it again."

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, Oregon state epidemiologist, said Covid-19 hospitalizations are up 50% in the past week and 100% over the past month. He added that the Portland area is among the hardest hit. He said as of 3:30 local time on Thursday, only 15 staffed ICU beds were available in the metro area.

"Covid-19 is spreading at an escalating and alarming rate," he said. "Today, the situation facing Oregon hospitals is looking increasingly grim."

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