Friday Updates: Clark County Applies For Phase 2 Reopening

By OPB Staff (OPB)
Portland, Ore. May 22, 2020 7:45 p.m.

UPDATE (5:02 p.m. PT) — Clark County applied Friday for permission from Washington state health officials to move into Phase 2 of the reopening framework intended to slowly relax rules imposed to battle the coronavirus pandemic. To be approved, Clark County has to hit certain benchmarks regarding the readiness of its health care systems, testing and its ability to protect vulnerable populations.

If Clark County is approved, residents could meet with up to five people outside of their immediate households and more business activity could occur — including limited in-store retail, new construction and restaurants could open their dining areas at half-capacity. County officials are emphasizing that this only an application, and residents should continue following current restrictions, which allow only “essential’ businesses to be open.


"Clark County is not yet approved for Phase 2 and does not have an anticipated start date for the next phase," county officials said in a statement Friday afternoon.

Washington has approved Phase 2 applications for 14 counties. Earlier this week, Gov. Jay Inslee announced new criteria, expanding eligibility for areas with 10 counties with larger populations, including Clark County.

Clackamas County approved for Phase 1 reopening

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Friday that Clackamas County can enter Phase 1 of reopening Saturday.

Clackamas County submitted its application for reopening to the governor's office May 19, showing it has met all of Brown's prerequisites.

Starting Saturday, certain businesses in Clackamas County — including restaurants, bars, hair salons, gyms and malls — can begin reopening while following public health guidelines.

“Thank you, Clackamas County,” county board of commissioners chair Jim Bernard said in a statement. “Without your incredible efforts in ‘flattening the curve,’ we would not have been able to move into Phase 1.”

Bernard advised Clackamas County residents and visitors to continue following health guidelines like washing hands and wearing masks in public to prevent major outbreaks of COVID-19 as the county reopens.

Oregon at nearly 3,900 known coronavirus cases

The Oregon Health Authority Friday reported the state's total number of known coronavirus cases at 3,864.

That number includes positive tests and presumptive cases. Presumptive cases are people who have not tested positive but have coronavirus symptoms and have come into close contact with a positive case.

The OHA also totaled the state’s coronavirus-related deaths at 147, after listing two new deaths.

Oregon COVID-19 Map

Jacob Fenton, The Accountability Project at the Investigative Reporting Workshop 

Clark County at more than 400 cases

The public health agency in Clark County, Washington, announced Friday that eight more residents have tested positive for COVID-19. In total, 427 people have tested positive and 25 people have died.

According to the most recently available data from the Washington Department of Health, there are 19,117 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington state and 1,044 known deaths.

Oregon self-serve gas rules end Saturday night

The Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal is ending its temporary rules change Saturday night, May 23, that allowed self-serve gas around the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting Sunday, gas attendants will again be providing service at gas stations where self-service was not allowed before the pandemic.

In some coastal and Eastern Oregon counties, self-serve gas is allowed in some circumstances. That will not change.

The office originally lifted the statewide ban on self-service gas in March to address a potential lack of workers and to limit interaction with workers and customers.

“We want to thank Oregonians and many Oregon businesses who provide gasoline for their patience as we allowed for voluntary self-service at Oregon gas stations where that service had not been available before,” State Fire Marshal Jim Walker said in a statement.

Wyden, Merkley seek relief for live venues affected by the pandemic

Oregon U.S. Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley Friday joined a bipartisan letter urging for economic relief for live venues in Oregon and nationwide in any additional response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Concerts and live events may not be possible until a vaccine is readily available to the public, which could be many months away, if not longer,” the letter reads. “Until that time, live event venues will remain shuttered, leaving employees without jobs and businesses without revenue.”

Wyden, Merkley and 41 other senators wrote that they support providing government funding, tax relief measures and other forms of relief to venues.

Oregonians filed almost 16,000 unemployment claims last week

The Oregon Unemployment Department reported receiving 15,890 initial claims for unemployment insurance last week.

An estimated 266,600 jobs were lost in March and April due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused Oregon’s unemployment rate to reach 14.2%.

Oregon’s unemployment rate was at a near-record low of 3.5% before the pandemic.

In April, one of every eight jobs in Oregon was idled or lost, according to the department.