Politics

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown extends pandemic emergency declaration until early 2021

By Dirk VanderHart (OPB)
Oct. 27, 2020 9:38 p.m.

The emergency declaration was scheduled to lapse Nov. 3, though an extension was widely expected.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is extending the state of emergency declaration that has enabled her to enact unprecedented rules around health care, education, and everyday commerce amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As new cases of COVID-19 begin to rise in Oregon and around the country, Brown announced she’s extending the state of emergency until Jan. 2, 2021. It had been scheduled to expire Nov. 3.

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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks at a press conference in Portland, Ore., Friday, March 20, 2020. Brown put in a request to the federal government for more PPE, but had only received 25% of it as of Wednesday.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks at a press conference in Portland, Ore., Friday, March 20, 2020.

Bradley W. Parks / OPB

“Extending the COVID-19 state of emergency is not something I do lightly, but we know all too well that not taking action would mean an even greater loss of life,” Brown said in a statement. “The second wave of COVID-19 has arrived in the United States, and this time it is hitting all of our communities.”

The announcement marks the fourth time Brown has extended the emergency declaration since first putting it into place on March 8. The declaration has set the stage for a raft of regulations that the governor has put into place unilaterally in the months since. That includes nine outstanding orders that, among other things, dictate how businesses must handle the virus, prohibit evictions, and set standards for schools.

Though the emergency declaration was scheduled to lapse in early November, there was not any expectation that the governor would allow it to expire. Longstanding worries that COVID cases would increase in autumn have proven accurate since mid-September, as average daily new cases have ticked upward. On Friday, the state announced its most-ever new cases for a single day: 550.

Despite that, Oregon has been spared the worrisome impacts the coronavirus is taking in other parts of the nation, which have seen hospital beds filling up and in some cases shut down indoor dining at restaurants.

“Oregon is not an island,” Brown said in a statement. “Without safety precautions in place, we could quickly see our case counts spike as well. We must continue to work together and follow the simple steps that have kept us safe throughout this pandemic: washing our hands, wearing face coverings, watching our physical distance, staying home when sick, and avoiding social get-togethers, especially indoors.”

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