Over 3,600 inspections since the Fourth of July weekend; Oregon joins 3 other states in telehealth effort
SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A month after announcing that state inspectors would conduct weekend spot checks in bars, restaurants, breweries, tasting rooms, and other establishments that serve alcohol, to enforce state face covering and physical distancing requirements, Gov. Kate Brown on Wednesday thanked Oregonians and the vast majority of business owners who have helped to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“One month ago, at the beginning of the July 4th weekend, I told Oregonians that we stood at a crossroads: we could either stop the spread of COVID-19, or watch infections and hospitalizations rise across Oregon, leading to the closure of businesses and counties again,” Brown said.
“We still have a long road ahead of us. Infections continue to rise. But I’d like to thank Oregonians, business owners, and local officials for stepping up to the plate to help make sure we are all wearing face coverings, keeping our physical distance, and working together to keep our friends, neighbors, loved ones, and fellow Oregonians safe.”
Since July 4th, Oregon Liquor Control Commission inspectors have spot checked over 3,600 licensed establishments. More than 93% have been found to be in compliance with physical distancing and face covering requirements.
Of the small number found not to be in compliance, the vast majority took steps to implement corrective measures when given instructions by OLCC about how to achieve compliance. Only about 1% of spot-checked business were referred to Oregon OSHA for further investigation.
Likewise, Oregon OSHA has fielded over 3,400 COVID-19-related complaints from the public and others about businesses and workplaces since the week of July 4th and found only a small number of businesses to be in violation of COVID-19 health and safety requirements.
Since March, Oregon OSHA has conducted over 5,000 spot checks of businesses, initiated more than 60 inspections based on COVID-19 related complaints, and have found it necessary to issue 14 citations and five Red Warning Notices.
Red Warning Notices apply to businesses that appear to be in willful violation of Oregon's COVID-19 health and safety guidance or who refuse to take corrective measures. Such businesses are closed until the hazardous condition is remedied. Violation of a Red Warning Notice results in stiff penalties.
OLCC inspectors have reported some business owners are continuing to choose not to follow health and safety requirements. For those businesses, OLCC has the ability to suspend licenses for failing to follow face covering and physical distancing requirements. OLCC took action Tuesday and suspended the liquor license of a Rogue River bar and restaurant.
Brown added: “Let me be clear: businesses that do not follow the health and safety guidance established by the Oregon Health Authority are putting their employees, their customers, and their communities at risk, risking community-wide closures for other businesses as well if a COVID-19 outbreak starts to spread out of control.”
Meanwhile, building on a previous announcement regarding COVID-19 re-opening, Brown joined Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak on Wednesday in announcing that their states will be working together on telehealth issues.
The governors issued the following joint statement:
"The coronavirus pandemic has heightened the demand for telehealth services nationally, and in our states. With patients reluctant to seek in-person care due to exposure risk and transportation access issues, telehealth has offered a way for patients to connect with health providers while mitigating exposure risk. It has also highlighted some of the inequities of our health care systems.
"During the COVID-19 crisis, each state has sought flexibilities from the federal government to expand health services available through telehealth, modify payment policy for services provided using this modality, and expand the allowable technologies used to provide telehealth services. The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has recently announced its intention to make permanent some of the telehealth flexibilities afforded during this pandemic. Telehealth is here to stay.
"Our states have significant individual and collective experience with telehealth. To ensure that the nation benefits from our knowledge as changes to federal regulations are contemplated, to support continued application and availability of telehealth in our states, and to ensure that we address the inequities faced in particular by tribal communities and communities of color, we are announcing that Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Nevada have agreed to work together to identify best practices that support telehealth services for residents of our states.
"We will have individual state-driven approaches to implementing telehealth policies, but our work will be guided by seven overarching principles:
- Access: Telehealth should be used as a means to promote adequate, culturally responsive, patient-centered equitable access to health care, and to ensure provider network adequacy.
- Confidentiality: Patient confidentiality should be protected, and patients should provide informed consent to receive care and the specific technology used to provide it.
- Equity: We will focus on improving equitable access to providers and addressing inequities and disparities in care. Telehealth should be available to every member, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, income, class, disability, immigration status, nationality, religious belief, language proficiency, or geographic location.
- Standard of Care: Standard of care requirements should apply to all services and information provided via telehealth, including quality, utilization, cost, medical necessity, and clinical appropriateness.
- Stewardship: Our states will require the use of evidence-based strategies for the delivery of quality care, and will take steps to mitigate and address fraud, waste, discriminatory barriers, and abuse.
- Patient choice: Patients, in conjunction with their providers, should be offered their choice of service delivery mode. Patients should retain the right to receive health care in person.
- Payment/reimbursement: Reimbursement for services provided via telehealth modalities will be considered in the context of the individual state’s methods of reimbursement.
"We intend to work with our federal partners on telehealth and invite them to commit to a similar coordinated and principle-driven approach. "