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Gov. Brown on reopening state: ‘It will take longer than anyone wants’

But she says cautious approach is crucial to avoid a spike in COVID-19 cases

(Update: Adding two new deaths Tuesday, 50 new cases; other comments)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Gov. Kate Brown laid out a series of requirements Tuesday before the unprecedented closure of vast segments of Oregon’s economy can be relaxed, including a slowdown in COVID-19 cases, adequate medical gear, more testing capacity, expanded contact tracing and more quarantine and isolation capacity.

“In the early days of this pandemic, I had to take swift action to protect Oregonians,” the governor told reporters at a livestreamed news conference. “Now, as we see, these efforts are working to flatten the curve. But we have to be cautious, or it will backfire.”

Noting that a vaccine or effective treatment may still be months away, Brown said, “If we move too quickly, we could see a spike in cases.”

“We all want to get back to work, and get back to life as normal as quickly as possible,” she said. “But the truth is, the best path forward is a cautious one. We have to be cautious, or it will backfire.”

First, she said, “we need to slow the growth. We need to see fewer and fewer cases of COVID-19.”

Second, she said, there needs to be adequate personal protective equipment – the masks, gloves and gowns, so that all health care workers and first responders who need them will be protected.

Third, she said, “we need to ramp up testing capacity in every region of the state. Increased testing can assure we know where the disease is and stop it from spreading again.”

Also, the governor said the Oregon Health Authority is developing “a robust system for contact tracing … that works for every region,” working with county public health departments and hospitals.

She also said the state needs an effective quarantine and isolation system for those who test positive, from those in nursing homes to those experiencing homelessness.

“These are the prerequisites necessary for when we reopen” business sectors, Brown said – and that won’t happen all at once, either.

“It’s not going to be easy, and it will take longer than we want,” she said.

Brown said she plans to meet with business leaders from across the state in coming days, to gather input from specific sectors, from restaurants to retailers and child care to personal services, such as hair and nail salons.

This is going to move slower than any of us would want, but it’s the only way to protect the health and lives of Oregonians.

--Gov. Kate Brown

The reopening will be gradual, she said, and could include guidelines for some close-contact sectors such as Plexiglas dividers or requirements for wearing PPE. Brown also said she will be working with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to coordinate efforts.

“While we have to be careful, we also cannot stand still,” Brown said. “We all know this is a global problem, and leaders across the world are wrestling with how to approach” what she noted was both a shuttering of the economy and a reopening at a scale that has never happened before. She vowed to base those decisions “on science and facts.”

The Oregon Health Authority on Tuesday reported two new coronavirus deaths, bringing the total number of people who have died from the disease to 55. The authority also reported 50 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to more than 1,633. A total of 30,730 have tested negative.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

Brown at one point spoke of preparing “in the months ahead” to get Oregon back to work, adding, “This is going to move slower than any of us would want, but it’s the only way to protect the health and lives of Oregonians.”

For example, she said, the state is not yet sure how much PPE capacity will be needed, beyond hospitals and clinics, and that Oregon Health and Sciences University can help with modeling. “We do know that we need more,” she said.

Brown noted that Oregon is now doing 7,000 to 8,000 COVID-19 tests a week, thanks to partnerships. Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state health officer with OHA, said a goal is to have up to 15,000 tests available for surveillance and efforts to determine how widespread the virus is. “Our capacity is getting there, with a slow increase, not where we would like.” He noted that it also requires adequate PPE, kits and the re-agents used in the lab.”

 A flattening of the number of coronavirus cases in Oregon should persist until at least mid-May, but modeling that shows what to expect beyond then is uncertain and its too soon to tell when the stay-home restrictions can be relaxed, the officials said.

“If we’re doing what we’re doing now through the middle part of May, we’re going to continue to look good, continue to have a kind of flattening of cases, if not a slight decrease in cases,” Sidelinger said. “That doesn’t mean that magically in the middle of May we can stop doing what we’re doing.”

“This is not like turning on a light switch,” he said. “This will be done gradually, based on science and data, sector by sector. When the data says we can lift restrictions safely, we’ll monitor to see if we have a surge in areas.”

Brown thanked Oregonians for the sometimes painful efforts to follow the stay-home and closure orders. She noted her family couldn’t hug her uncle when he turned 90 in assisted living, so they did what’s become common of late: a drive celebration.

“This is really, really hard for our families,” Brown said.

Asked by a reporter if a geographic approach is possible for reopening sectors of business, Brown said “that is one of the things that is under consideration,” if the other needs can be met. “It’s one of the factors we will consider moving forward.”

There’s also a realization that shutting down elective and non-urgent care has hit rural hospitals hard, as well as other health fields, such as dental services. But key is more testing capacity and adequate PPE.

“We’re working on it,” she said.

Sidelinger noted that Oregon has received 15 machines that were testing just for the flu and now can test for COVID-19, but the kits are still “extremely limited” and were sent to rural hospitals. Meanwhile, commercial lab partners have cleared their backlogs and are “able to test in a more timely manner.” As for the 15,000 weekly tests goal, he said, “We may not use all that, if the disease continues to decline, but the goal is for timely testing for those who need it.”

Other questions brought up the impact on state government. Brown noted a new revenue forecast is due in mid-May, but it’s already clear the loss of revenue is “going to be challenging.”

The governor noted that the state, unlike the federal government, has to balance its budget, and that she will continue to work with legislative leaders on what's needed. She also thanked the state’s congressional delegation “for their incredible efforts to get as much resources as possible” for Oregon.

Brown also said she's confident all of governors of both parties are united on one point – the need to cut strings attached to many federal dollars, even in a time of crisis: “We would all like to see much greater flexibility in federal resources.”

News release from Gov. Kate Brown's office:

Governor Kate Brown Introduces Framework for Reopening Oregon

(Portland, OR) — Governor Kate Brown today introduced her framework for Reopening Oregon: a plan to restart public life and business while maintaining healthy Oregon communities. The framework sets specific prerequisites based on science, which Oregon communities must meet to begin reopening, and also outlines the actions Oregon must take to move forward.

“We all want to get back to work and return to normal life as quickly as possible,” said Governor Brown. “But the truth is: the best path forward is a cautious one — a path that proceeds gradually, carefully, and incrementally. A path that relies on science and facts to determine each step forward."

In order to begin reopening communities, Oregon must first slow the growth of COVID-19, as well as acquire adequate personal protective equipment to protect health care workers and first responders. Once those prerequisites are met, Oregon can begin to reopen by:

  • Ramping up COVID-19 testing capacity in every region of Oregon
  • Developing robust contact tracing systems to track and contain COVID-19 cases
  • Establishing a quarantine and isolation program for new cases

“While we have to be careful, we also cannot stand still,” said Governor Brown. “The shuttering of an economy at this scale has never happened before. Likewise, the reopening of a shuttered economy of this scale has never happened before.

“As we prepare in the months ahead to get Oregon back to work, we must remember the importance of doing so in a smart and deliberate fashion that keeps us moving forward instead of sending us backward.”

  • A full transcript of Governor Brown’s remarks is available here.
  • A copy of Governor Brown’s presentation is available here.
  • A recording of Governor Brown’s press conference is available here.
Government-politics / News / Oregon-Northwest / Top Stories

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.

The Associated Press



  1. Can’t wait for the expert opinions of the Central Oregon Brain Trust to chime in from their mobile home porches, especially Biden’s Nose Bugger and Barneys Stupid Wish cuz them’s the smartest.

      1. The “solution” is to let the experts do their jobs without the ignorance of Trump and his trolls to make things worse. A keyboard troll shouldn’t be giving “expert” advice or clueless uninformed information, next?

        1. Which expert? the one picked by your hero? or is it permissible to listen to multiple experts across multiple fields of expertise in multiple geographical areas and make up our own mind? It is really enlightening to listen to stories, news and otherwise, from outside our stateside media coverage and control.

      2. you always seem to arrive with a basket full of nothing (other than some amorphous anger toward your fellow humans), but that never seems to stop you

    1. I doubt you will see them on this thread. When real facts that are contrary to their vomit they are spewing, they tend to not post, keep away, and ignore message boards. You will also not see them on any article talking about Trump’s claim that he has absolute authority of states as the president.

  2. AS long as they don’t plan on tracking us, the general public. They have the right to track government employees while on the job but not even them when they are on their own time.

    1. Yeah I caught that too. Rest assured that if she can figure out a way to do it,
      she will, and there are plenty of ignorant liberals in this state that will willingly
      allow it, just because she said it’s a good idea…
      Brown has been breaking laws daily, and ignoring the voters of this state for years,
      and she won’t let a little legal technicality stop her from trampling on the rights
      of the citizens.

    2. you just had the president announce that his powers were limitless (check his words, don’t argue with me) and you are going to spin some paranoid yarn about a governor wanting to track you? Sorry for the let down, but you’re just not that interesting/important

      1. You have a very narrow view apparently – my coment about not tracking us, the general public, stands for all levels of government, not just your favorite.

  3. It so encouraging to have a leader who prioritizes the well-being of Oregonians and has empathy for the hardships. Her quick decisive actions saved a lot of lives. Keep up the good work Kate!

        1. I tried it years ago and didn’t like it, and I don’t have a conspiracy stressed
          psyche. I never have bought into conspiracies. I try to look at facts, but it’s
          almost impossible to do that with the extremely biased, and agenda driven rhetoric
          that consumes the entire political section on here courtesy of CNN, as well as from other media outlets. I also look at a particular persons past track record, and that
          makes it very easy to see their true agenda, and that goes for people from both parties, not just Democrats…
          -It’s simple, I’m a realist, and try to learn what I can about a topic. I don’t go through life believing everything I read or am told by anyone, ESPECIALLY politicians…

  4. This is going to move slower than any of us would want, but it’s the only way to protect the health and lives of Oregonians.

    –Gov. Kate Brown

    We’re in uncharted territory. There will be mistakes made and surprising successes as we learn to walk again. An effective vaccine would be a game changer.

  5. If you catch virus and recover your antibodies protect you from catching it again. Do not go back to work. Go out and help those who are sick. Medical professionals are unreplaceable. It takes many more people to run a hospital that can be replaced by recovered people letting others go isolate. The economy is ruined for years

    1. they aint really sure about that yet, it could mutate and we’d go through a different strain of the virus every year like the flu.

    1. “We?” yes We. What Keizer Brown is doing is effecting everyone on a physical and mental level. Welcome to the new world folks, we no longer live in a free country. And that is exactly what they wanted.

      1. You speak like Kate Brown has the authority to decide when to open the state back up. Trump has made it clear that it’s his decision, not hers.

        1. So far she has followed her own ideas. If the White house directed everyone to open back up next week. I doubt she would follow it. Even though she would not have a choice.

          1. Take a civics class and you might learn something? The president has NO AUTHORITY to tell governors squat over this. Fox viewers are easy to see with their ignorance and are totally wrong, I guarantee it!

            1. I dont need to. I retired from the DOJ so do know the rules. Federal mandates trump state and local ones. If the president directs something to be done the public can chose to follow his orders regardless of what the state and local mandates. Thats all I have to say about this but I sure you won’t. Carry on.

              1. While federal law can preempt state law, that is only true when the federal government has authority over the subject matter in the first place. Even if the federal government did have the power to govern intrastate commerce, the operation of schools, or public health regulation (which it does not), the President would not inherently hold that power; Congress makes the laws, and doesn’t seem to have made one that even claims to give the President this authority.

                It’s amazing how the “states’ rights” and “separation of powers” objections that “conservatives” made in the Obama years fall away when there’s a Republican in the Oval Office.

              2. Your answer has nothing to do with your clueless statement. I seriously doubt you worked for the DOJ because if you did you wouldn’t have made up facts to fit your ignorance.

                1. Thank you for the laugh. You have made my day. Carry on. You are great entertainment.

    2. Stop. Lol you must not be from the USA bcz in the US we vote and we voted for Kate to be our govenor. That’s how it works here in the Good ole USofA! #vote 🇺🇲😘🇺🇲 #americafirst

    3. What has she done that the majority of other governors haven’t? Oregon’s Covid death stats are the envy of most other states. IMHO, that fact alone earns Kate 3 gold stars. If you base your comment on the state of the economy, I ask you this – what is one life worth to you and just what do you consider success in a pandemic?

  6. How about if Gov. Kate addresses the absolute boondoggle of the Employment Dept. that is crippling the out of work Oregonians? relief isn’t coming to independent contractors/ self-employed as the forms and online website isn’t geared for them and they are forced to weave through the tangle. Literally, hours are spent on hold just to be told that this number is transferring them to another number. One week they are told their claim went through only to have their claim denied the next week! Or, they get a letter saying there is a problem and they need to call the number where…you guessed it…they are put on hold for hours again. Doesn’t matter what time they call or what day it is the same. As a barber friend told me, “They want to square peg through a round hole all of us”.
    Id be happy if KTVZ did some investigative reporting on this and grill Wyden, Brown, Walden, all of them on it. It’s one thing to report on the happy horsecrap that Kate says about “its tough and let’s all stick together” but the regular folks are getting NO help at all from our wonderful state. Too bad they can thug their relative…other folks they promised to help cant pay the rent thanks to her shutting them down. And yes, I realize it was needed due to the disease, but I don’t think they thought it through very well or considered all the people involved.

  7. We have low numbers and the people who point out that we have empty hospital beds and complain are morons. We want empty beds and more resources than we can use with ventilators sent to New York because they needed them while we didn’t(hopefully won’t)need them. I’m not a big Kate Brown fan either but she showed leadership by ignoring the orange idiot and standing with Oregonians. If it had been Knute who was governor he would have been kissing Trumps *** while denying there was a virus. Good luck with being a total loser and running for congress, lol!

    1. Have you not seen the recent news? The Doctors have determined that 80% of the COVID patients died due to being on the ventilator and not because of the virus. Many have stopped using them and many more are refusing to.

  8. We have been closed down for almost a month. Total of 1633 cases and 55 deaths? Democrat Governors are high on their power. People will not put up with this much longer. The whole reason for the shutdown was so hospitals would not be overwhelmed. They have not been and now it is time to open back up!

    1. Maybe you should live in South Dakota where the Republican Governor didn’t close down. I wonder if we’ll be sending them our extra ventilators.

    2. So you’re admitting it’s working? Ya, I think you are! #confirmed 🇺🇲first 🇺🇲 Thanks state leadership for jumping on this quick and saving lives!

  9. The nanny state’s have you in their iron fist, as she said it will take longer than you wish for them to release you, and do not expect to be fully released, they will hold on long after this is virus is gone. This was a dream come true for the socialist party. Just look around, no large gatherings, no worshiping, separate everyone, and, track their movements, turn in your neighbor. Sounds real familiar. At what point do we say this is not right, or will most just accept the fact that their freedoms are gone? In two years this virus will have did it’s damage, and one way or another it will have been defeated, how about you? I can see from a lot of comments on here it would not change their lives one bit, they will still be in the same place in life they have always been, and always will be, in their parents, or grandparents care.

        1. That’s because there is no COVID vaccine yet. But just wait, they have been laying the groundwork for mandatory vaccinations for the past year. Or haven’t you been paying attention?

  10. Better to take our time as Gov Brown suggests and do it right the first time than open everything up prematurely, resulting in a second pandemic wave.

        1. Hey I been waiting for you to show up with your worthless opinions. How goes your hatred of Gov Kate? I know it’s tough being an incel but you really don’t have anything to add either. Trust me: count on me to not scroll by you and your deeply stupid ideas.

    1. Agreed! I have come to the realization that we are not a free country anymore, nor will we ever be again. I would move but I can’t afford to. Might as well change the saying “Land of the Free and the home of the Brave” to “Land of the oppressed and the home of the bravado”

      1. Quit your complaining. You’re getting your free money, aren’t you? How much money do you collect from The Government each month?
        You are a moocher, plain and simple and a hypocrite.

        1. I get a widow’s pension every month because my husband was a 100% Service connected Veteran. He put his life on the line for our freedom so people like you can spout off and not worry about landing in jail. So if being the widow of a Veteran is being a moocher then by God that’s a badge I will wear proudly.

  11. I am completely disappointed with our news and our government. More than 38,000 people die each year in the US in car accidents. Just think how many lives we could save if we didn’t drive!!!

    1. Dying in a car wreck has minimal load on hospital resources. COVID-19 has 5x the load on hospital resources that the flu does.

      In America, we don’t care how many people die. We only care that we have enough hospital room. And COVID-19 was testing our hospitals in ways that the flu doesn’t, and certainly in ways that car accidents don’t.

      It’s not the total death count. It’s our ability to handle treating people with the virus.

      When Trump realized that people dying outside hospitals would mean he’d never get reelected, he changed his tune.

      “A key CoronaVirus Model is now predicting far fewer deaths than the number shown in earlier models. That’s because the American people are doing a great job. Social Distancing etc. Keep going!” –Donald Trump

    2. That’s funny. In the United States people treat driving like it is a God given right. It’s not. Our country would be much better off If we made it 10 times harder to get a license. Stupid drivers do kill a lot of people.

      So has the Orange Anus and his sheeple followers. When you folks signed on to this last ditch ultra conservative effort to save a dying ideology and way of life was it your intention to see this country ripped apart?

  12. Great job Kate. I’m so glad I live in Oregon. <3
    Don't let ^ these Nazis bring you down, this is a beautiful state filled with beautiful people. We've been doing a great job working together to keep this under control, and those of you who have been doing your part should be proud. Thank you guys/gals so much.

    1. Great job Oregon! You’re leadership is being praised by all the world! VP and the President praised us as well! Not bad Kate, not bad at all!

  13. I just read that the head idiot in California, Newsom, is going to spend millions of tax dollars to give the illegals in California their own stimulus money because they don’t qualify
    for the current package… Always nice to see politicians waste more taxpayer money by supporting criminals, but he is a Democrat so it’s certainly not a surprise.

    – Because the three west coast Governors are all low I.Q Dems, and think alike, I wonder how long it will be until Brown follows his lead, and tries to do the same things for the thousands of her pet criminal illegals in Oregon ? Probably won’t be long because she
    already wastes millions of OUR tax dollars on them every year.

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