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Gov. Brown stops short for now at shutting down bars, restaurants

Bend On Tap food cart lot Rhea 3-16
Rhea Panela/KTVZ
Only two food trucks were open Monday at On Tap in northeast Bend; owners say they think things are slow more due to the snow than COVID-19

Instead, her plea to younger, healthier folks: Keep your distance

(Update: Adding livestream news conference link)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s governor made a plea Monday for younger, healthier people to keep their distance from others, warning they could be asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus and that “following the guidelines on social distancing is a matter of life and death for others.”

But Gov. Kate Brown stopped short, for now at least, of ordering a shutdown of bars and restaurants in the state. She said restaurants provide a lot of meals to the elderly and vulnerable people, especially in rural communities.

Gov. Brown was holding a news conference at mid-afternoon. Here's the livestream link:

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Sunday said he would direct all restaurants and bars to close in Oregon’s northern neighbor, though restaurants could still offer takeout and delivery services. Many other governors around the country have issued similar bans, including Illinois, Ohio and Massachusetts.

Brown also told reporters in a conference call that a White House “testing czar” said private labs will have the capacity to do 1 million tests this week, 2 million next week and 5 million the week after for COVID-19.

“That’s good news,” said Brown.

Oregon officials said Sunday that the state lab had materials on hand to process only up to 1,000 tests.

There are currently 39 confirmed cases in Oregon. Test results for 182 other people are pending, the Oregon Health Authority’s web site said. State health officials suspect there are hundreds of undiagnosed cases and that if left unchecked, the number could blossom into the tens of thousands.

Oregon has reported one death: a Multnomah County man in his 70s with underlying health problems who was hospitalized at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and died on Saturday. A staff member and nine residents of an Oregon Veterans’ Home, in Lebanon, have also tested positive.

U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, both Oregon Democrats, teamed up with 10 Senate colleagues to try to ensure the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is taking appropriate measures.

“We recognize that the COVID-19 outbreak is an evolving situation, with a growing impact on the U.S. and global community, and want to ensure that the VA has all of the resources needed to keep veterans, staff, and communities safe,” the senators wrote on Thursday.


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