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Columbia County moves into Phase 2 of the state's reopening framework on Saturday, June 6.

Reopening Phase 2

“I want to be clear that moving to Phase 2 comes with increased risk,” Governor Kate Brown stated in her approval letter to Columbia County. “With every restriction lifted we know transmission of the virus has the potential to increase."

Columbia County qualified for Phase 2 reopening because the 16 COVID-19 cases have remained steady for several days and as of June 5, there were still no virus-related county deaths. Also, the county has the capacity to respond to an increase in people reporting symptoms of COVID-19 through testing, healthcare support and hospitalization.

Read the guidelines and requirements of Phase 2 in the story attached.

Even though the county is moving forward in reopening, Columbia County Community Health Nurse Supervisor Heather Bell is urging county residents and visitors to remain vigilant.

“Physical distancing is not behind us as Phase 2 reopening begins,” Bell said. “In fact, more of us out and about will lead to more contact with others, and more potential exposure to COVID-19. As we are out and going about our lives it is still very important to continue the protective measures that we have been practicing.”

It will still be important to keep social circles small, and to stay local when going out, Bell said. She emphasized that people will need to continue practicing intensive sanitation measures, such as frequent and thorough hand washing, using hand sanitizer, avoiding touching one’s face and to use face masks in public and at work.

While Columbia County's COVID-19 case count is low compared to nearby counties Multnomah and Washington where cases are reported in the 1,000s or nearly 1,000, Bell said the numbers should not lure people into a sense of false safety.

“The low number of cases in our county up to this point may not indicate the true number of individuals who have or have had COVID-19, since some have had mild symptoms, would not have seen their medical providers, and would not have been reported as cases,” Bell said.

Even if the COVID-19 is mild in some people, it can be transmitted to others who can be more severely affected by the virus, according to Bell.

“In addition, our community works and accesses necessities outside of our county on a regular basis," she said. "For all of these reasons, it is important to understand that the risk is not behind us."

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