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Gradual Reopening In Lane County Could Last Through The Summer

Lane County

Lane County staff is drafting plans to reopen. County officials say once approved by Governor Kate Brown, reopening will likely occur in three phases over the course of several weeks.  

UPDATE 5/2: Lane County has identified 4 new positive COVID-19 cases on May 2. This ended a week-long streak of  no new cases that was previously referenced in this story.

On Friday, County Commissioner Chair Heather Buch said the county will send a blueprint to the governor with plans to reopen after the county has met three critera. This includes demonstrating a decrease in COVID-19 cases over a period of 14 days, having an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders, and increased testing. 

Progression from phase to phase is expected to maintain these requirements by continuuing to set benchmarks around caseloads, PPE supply, and testing. Blueprint standards will also need to be met for at least 14 days before the county considers moving forward.

For example, to go from Phase 1 to Phase 2, the county will need to meet certain requirements for caseloads, PPE supply, and testing for 14 days. The same is true to advance from Phase 2 to Phase 3. The exception, however, is exiting the third phase.

“Phase 3 would be our new normal for several weeks, possibly even through the summer,” Buch said. Here, the county would likely allow an increase in gatherings, unrestricted staffing at work and work sites, lift restrictions on visitors at assisted living facilities, and increase seating in bars and restaurants, Buch said.

To get to Phase 3 the county will start with Phase 1 by allowing small social gatherings, and slowly reopening businesses that have enough space to practice physical distancing. The next phase, Phase 2, would increase the size of gatherings, widen the number businesses that can open, and allow non-essential travel.

“While it feels wonderful to plan for a return to a more normal living, it’s important to remember that parts of the governor’s plan may change, and that we may require changes to our draft plan in Lane County,” she said.

Buch also stressed that re-opening will depend on residents actively participating in keeping themselves healthy and making smart choices.

County commissioners are scheduled to discuss reopening plans at a joint Board of Health and Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. and will be streamed online.

© 2020 KLCC

Melorie Begay is a multimedia journalist for KLCC News. She was the Inaugural KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She has a bachelors in Multimedia Journalism from the University of New Mexico. She previously interned at KUNM public radio in Albuquerque, NM and served as a fellow for the online news publication New Mexico In Depth.