Oregon Governor Kate Brown is standing firm in her decision to move 15 counties, including Columbia County, to the state's pandemic Extreme High risk classification.
She also reaffirmed her plans to life the health and safety restrictions by the end of June.
Brown told reporters during a Friday, April 30 news briefing, that is Oregon's COVID-19 cases are widespread and driven by new more contagious variants. She said that Oregon leads the nation for the rate of increase in cases over the last two weeks.
"In fact, this is the fifth straight week Oregon has recorded cases increases 20% or more," Brown said. "Our hospitalizations have nearly doubled what they were a week ago."
The Extreme High risk classifications mean tighter public restrictions and limitations for businesses, such as no indoor dining at restaurants.
"I was presented with data showing two paths Oregon could take: One in which we took no additional action and stood by while more people die from this disease, and another that required a temporary tightening of restrictions for certain counties but could save hundreds of lives and prevent as many as 450 hospitalizations over the next three weeks, Brown said "As your Governor, I chose to save lives."
Brown also offered a more positive long-term outlook.
"The same scientific modeling also shows that over the course of the next two-to-three weeks, based on current vaccination rates, we can get ahead of these variants," she said. "Following that trajectory, we should be able to lift restrictions statewide and return to a sense of normalcy no later than the end of June."
Brown asked for Oregonians to help.
"We know vaccinations are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones, and they are the key to fully reopening our economy and moving forward to post-pandemic life," Brown said. "But it will take each and everyone one of us to do our part to get there. If you haven't been vaccinated, please do so now — there are many available appointments statewide."
This week, Columbia County Commissioners joined 79 other elected officials from across the state and the Oregon Restaurant Association asking that Brown reconsider the pandemic risk classifications because of the adverse impact they have created for businesses and restaurants.
The Columbia County Board of Commissioners is asking Governor Kate Brown to reconsider her l…