Washington County Board of Commissioners approves reopening plan and contact tracing recruitment contracts

For Immediate Release: Friday, May 15, 2020

Sponsored by: Health and Human Services Department

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Today the Washington County Board of Commissioners approved a reopening plan written by county staff with input from local emergency managers. The board also approved contracting with two outside agencies for recruitment of contact tracers and support staff. 

“To be clear, today’s approval does not mean we are ready to apply to the Governor’s Office for Phase 1,” said Board Chair Kathryn Harrington. “Although Washington County is now one important step closer to reopening, we will continue to apply public health expertise and science to guide the next steps in our transition.” 

Washington County’s comprehensive reopening plan details the seven criteria set by Governor Kate Brown for a county to be eligible for Phase 1. These are listed below, along with the county’s current status on each of them: 

  1. Declining prevalence of COVID-19: This criterion has been met. Washington County data on positive tests, case counts and hospitalizations can be found at http://arcg.is/0Si5re.  
  2. Minimum testing regimen: This criterion has been met. 
  3. Contact tracing system: This requirement is still in process. Now that contracts have been authorized, the county can ramp up hiring to meet the requirement of contacting 95% of cases within 24 hours. The staffing plan for up to 121 people also includes epidemiologists, data entry staff, supervisory and administrative personnel, as well as other support staff. The county plans to have 30% of the contact tracing staff hired at the time the application is submitted. Washington County is committed to hiring a linguistically and culturally diverse local workforce that reflects the community. 
  4. Isolation/quarantine facilities: This criterion has been met. The county has a contract with a hotel that is already housing people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and those who are unhoused, symptomatic and are awaiting test results. The county is also exploring other options, including hotel vouchers and potential contracts for other housing options near migrant farm camps.  
  5. Finalized statewide sector guidelines: This state requirement has been met by the Oregon Health Authority. 
  6. Sufficient health care capacity: This requirement has been met by the medical providers in the six-county health region. 
  7. Sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) supply: County and health region requirements have both been met. 

Health officials expect positive cases and hospitalizations to increase as people begin to move about more. Community members are urged to continue to practice physical distancing, wash their hands often and wear cloth face coverings.  

“We know our community is anxious to start opening up,” said Health and Human Services Director Marni Kuyl. “But it’s important that we do this right. We don’t want to have to backtrack and close back down, so we are being cautious in our approach.” 

Washington County is aiming to be approved by the Governor’s Office for Phase 1 reopening by early to mid-June.  

Washington County’s reopening plan will be posted on their website at https://www.co.washington.or.us/HHS/CommunicableDiseases/COVID-19/reopening.cfm


Wendy Gordon, Lead PIO, Washington County Joint Information Center 
wendy_gordon@co.washington.or.us, 503-849-9117 

Philip Bransford, Communications Officer, County Administrative Office 
philip_bransford@co.washington.or.us, 503-846-8685