Emergency Declaration Extended to September 1

For Immediate Release: Monday, August 24, 2020

Sponsored by: County Administrative Office

Emergency declaration continued to support public health response

Presentation from HHS Director Marni Kuyl, August 18, 2020

The Washington County Board of Commissioners extended by 14 days, until September 1, the county’s prior declaration of emergency regarding the response to the new coronavirus. The new emergency declaration continues the authorizations, support for coordination and other actions from the prior declaration adopted on July 22. 

Washington County entered phase 1 reopening within Governor Kate Brown’s reopening framework on June 1. The governor subsequently linked Washington County’s future progress toward phase 2 reopening to that of Clackamas and Multnomah counties. Since that time, Washington County has performed poorly on several of the governor’s criteria for progressing to phase 2. 

On August 18, Health and Human Services Director Marni Kuyl provided an overview of the data showing where Washington County stands within the statewide reopening framework. Among the governor’s criteria for entering phase 2, only contact tracing capability within Washington County has been consistently met, but even this criterion has not been met in the three-county region. Measures such as the trend in the percent of cases not traced to another known source and COVID-19-related hospitalizations are worsening in Washington County. 

“The numbers are starting to decline or level off, but we are still seeing new cases, we are still seeing new hospitalizations,” said Kuyl. “We need to stay the course, we need to make sure that we are washing our hands, that we are covering our mouths and noses and that we are maintaining physical distance.” 

Kuyl also outlined where Washington County stands with respect to Governor Kate Brown’s requirements for in-person instruction in schools. To get to that stage, criteria must be met at both the county level and statewide. At the county level, the data must show both that the COVID-19 test positivity rate is less than 5% over seven days and that there are 10 or fewer positive cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period. Both of these metrics must be met three weeks in a row. At the state level, test positivity must also be 5% or less over seven days.

For the last three weeks, Washington County’s positivity rate has been above 5% and the number of cases per 100,000 has averaged in the upper forties. Kuyl pointed out that these statewide measures may be much harder for high-population counties to achieve compared to more remotely populated counties elsewhere in Oregon. 

“We have a lot of concerns about the inability of children to return to school. It can be detrimental to the kids and their learning and their social and emotional development,” said Kuyl. “It is also very difficult for their families who need to get back to work. 

Kuyl walked through the various metrics and exceptions to the statewide requirements for schools in a 30-minute presentation available on the Washington County YouTube channel. Her presentation also included an overview of day care issues and resources, including the State of Oregon’s Employment Related Day Care program with its no-copay policy -- until October 1 -- for eligible applicants. After this deadline, copays will be based on their gross income and household size. 

The board first declared an emergency on March 4, just after the county’s first case of COVID-19 was discovered. 

The county’s emergency operations center (EOC) also activated soon after the first case of new coronavirus was reported. The coordinating center serves to support public health operations and to help organize the multi-agency response to the outbreak. Hundreds of staff and representatives from several community partners have been working in the EOC since that time, using appropriate social distancing. County staff continues to collaborate with community partners and other jurisdictions to collectively slow the spread of this new disease.   

Objectives for the Washington County EOC include:

  • Equity: Ensure all EOC sections incorporate equity considerations into their actions and prioritize support to vulnerable populations and marginalized communities.
  • Public Information: Provide timely and accurate information and guidance to the community regarding the new school metrics and public health measures that will help reduce the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Public Health Response: Manage the expanded public health workforce responsible for case investigation, contact tracing, active monitoring, and outbreaks. Fill basic needs for people who require assistance while isolated or quarantined.  
  • Governor’s Orders: Coordinate the thorough implementation of disease control measures and enforce the governor’s executive orders related to COVID-19. 
  • Disparate Impacts: Develop and implement strategies to slow disease spread in settings and communities that are disproportionately impacted (communities of color, houseless, long-term care and other congregate settings, migrant farmworkers). 
  • Resources: Provide resources, including medical PPE and other items (e.g. non-medical infection control items), to eligible recipients.  
  • COVID-19 Funding: Provide support to County departments in tracking and recovering costs and navigating COVID-19 funding sources. Ensure a coordinated process for incident financial management. 
  • Community Needs: Assess the social, emotional, and economic impacts of COVID-19 on the community and develop strategies to address critical gaps (e.g., essential needs, behavioral health, and recovery).  
  • Recovery: Support and coordinate County and countywide recovery efforts. 

The public is reminded to follow Governor Kate Brown’s statewide orders for limiting the spread of the virus and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These simple steps can save lives by to slowing the spread of COVID-19:

  • Follow the statewide requirement to wear a face covering when in indoor public spaces and outdoors when six feet of distance cannot be maintained. This requirement does not apply to children under five, and to people with a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering. 
  • Wash your hands often with warm running water and soap for 20-seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand wash product.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes using your sleeve or a tissue, not your bare hand.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home and away from the rest of your household if you’re feeling sick. Additional home guidance is here.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched surfaces at home and at work, including your mobile devices.
  • Follow the governor’s Safe and Strong Oregon orders.
  • Pregnant women should visit the CDC's website for the most current guidance.
  • Breastfeeding women should visit Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine for the most current guidance.

Health officials also ask that the public stay informed and educated through trustworthy sources of information, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Oregon Health Authority and Washington County Public Health Division

General questions about COVID-19 can be answered by calling 2-1-1. Questions about your specific medical needs should be directed to your health care provider.

Media Contacts:

Philip Bransford, Communications Officer, County Administrative Office

Mary Sawyers, Public Information Officer, Public Health Division