Oregon Gov. Kate Brown defends throwing state back into COVID lockdown

Oregon Gov Kate Brown has blamed the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations for her decision to reinstate COVID-19 restrictions on 36 counties.

On Thursday, Brown extended Oregon's state of emergency for COVID-19 until June 28, saying a fourth surge of the pandemic is being driven by variants of the disease and causing increased cases and hospitalizations.

The declaration allows Brown to issue executive orders restricting activity and helps the state utilize federal COVID-relief funds, the governor's office said.

During an interview with KATU, Brown said: 'It takes community-wide measures to make sure that we can protect our most vulnerable Oregonians. I certainly am extremely concerned about the impacts to our businesses and that's why I've worked with the Oregon legislature to get a $20million funding package that will go out to these 15 counties. 

'In terms of why a statewide approach, it's about hospitalizations and health care capacity,' she said. 

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Oregon Gov Kate Brown has blamed the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations for her decision to reinstate COVID-19 restrictions on 36 counties

Oregon Gov Kate Brown has blamed the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations for her decision to reinstate COVID-19 restrictions on 36 counties

On Thursday, Brown extended Oregon's state of emergency for COVID-19 until June 28, saying a fourth surge of the pandemic is being driven by variants of the disease and causing increased cases (depicted) and hospitalizations

On Thursday, Brown extended Oregon's state of emergency for COVID-19 until June 28, saying a fourth surge of the pandemic is being driven by variants of the disease and causing increased cases (depicted) and hospitalizations

Brown was referring to the 15 counties that she put into the state's extreme risk category. Restrictions in those areas include banning indoor restaurant dining. 

The counties in the extreme risk category are: Baker, Clackamas, Columbia, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk and Wasco.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, whose city partially lies in Multnomah County, which was moved to extreme risk, urged people to use safety protocols to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

'The key to reopening our city is ending the pandemic,' Wheeler said.

The restaurant sector has objected to Brown's action, with the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association declaring that the state lost more than 1,000 food service businesses in 2020 and that 200 more closed permanently so far this year.

The association wrote a letter to Brown last week, asking her to reconsider her 'approach to virus mitigation measures at this stage in the crisis'.

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