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Most Oregon Counties Submit Applications For Phase Two Reopening

Chris Lehman

Most Oregon counties have applied to enter Phase Two of Gov. Kate Brown’s re-opening plan.

Counties have to spend at least three weeks in Phase One before they can enter Phase Two. That puts this Friday as the earliest date for the majority of Oregon counties. Approvals could be announced as soon as Thursday.

To get approved, counties must meet a variety of benchmarks. They must demonstrate that COVID-19 cases have stayed level or are falling, and must also have the ability to conduct contact tracing for the vast majority of new case.

In Benton County, the county commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to apply to enter Phase Two.

“I feel comfortable with where we are," said Commissioner Xan Augerot. "It’s going to be, hopefully, a controlled roller coaster.”

Under Phase Two, bars and restaurants can stay open later, more types of businesses can open, and larger indoor gatherings will be allowed.

If Benton County is approved for Phase Two, there's no guarantee it would stay there.

"We are at risk of going back into Phase One if we're not really diligent with Phase Two," said Benton County emergency manager Brian Lee.

It's also not clear how long it will be until counties can apply for Phase Three, or what Phase Three will even look like. "Phase Two could last the next 18 months, for all we know," said Lee.

Lane, Linn, Douglas and Deschutes Counties have also applied to enter Phase Two, as have most other counties that entered Phase One on May 15.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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