During a very short Board of Commissioners meeting Board Chair Kaety Jacobson announced that they had heard back from the state regarding the counties plan to go to phase 2 on August 24. Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Director Patrick Allen explained that Lincoln County's application to move into phase 2 will be approved by Governor Brown effective September 8th IF the County meets OHA Public Health Indicators from the week(s) before that date. The official notification letter from the Governor’s Office had not yet been received by the Board but is expected soon. The board will discuss this further along with the 24-hour hold at county hotels and STR's on Monday the 24th.
During the Monday meeting the board heard from Rebecca Austin County Health Director gave the counties statistics. We have 444 positive cases, 7,333 negative cases, 19 hospitalizations, there have been 11 deaths and 28 recovered. She said the cases have been going up and down with the latest spikes being from the long term care facilities and now from the hotel in Lincoln City. She said they have hired two bi-lingual community health workers who will be helping at the Federal Qualified Health Centers and with communal diseases. She also expressed concerns with staff burnout.
Commissioners also heard an update on schools from Lincoln County School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Gray. She reported that under the current mandates school buildings can't open and they are moving to a comprehensive distance learning plan. She said this will be different than what was offered in the spring, as teachers will be in the classrooms with safety protocols. This plan has been submitted to the OHA for their approval. She said "Going to phase 2 would help with allowing some athletics and more importantly it would allow for opening limited day car, which is much needed right now."
Gray added that they might be able to do a limited in person instruction but this is only allowed if an entire school and its staff have not been sick for 14-days. This is difficult to track. You could only have 10 students at a time including on the bus and only for 2-hours at a time. There would be no recess and lunch would be provided to go. In person learning she said is especially important for children in grades K-3, ESL students and special education students. "Until we go down and stay down," Gray said "our schools are going to be online".
Letter to commissioners from the Governor's office:
Commissioner Jacobson and Public Health Director Austen,
We received your application request to enter Phase 2 for reopening and have been in discussions with you about a mutually agreed upon date on September 8, 2020. We have been carefully monitoring your case trends and over the last two weeks there has been an increase in positivity, slightly higher than the criteria to enter Phase 2. However, we anticipate that your county will stabilize and will be able to enter Phase 2 by the target date of September 8, 2020, if you continue to test, track and isolate new cases of COVID-19. This work will make it possible for you to move to the next phase.
Your county will need to continue close monitoring of OHA’s six public health indicators to manage any increase in new cases. OHA will be monitoring the spread of COVID-19 in your county, and throughout the state, and will be ready to work with you if any concerns arise.
Please find attached a response letter from Governor Brown. Between now and the target date I hope to be a resource and partner to you. Should you have any questions or concerns during this pandemic please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly. I look forward to working with you and the county.
Linda Roman Health Policy Advisor | Office of Governor Kate Brown