SALEM, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown said on Tuesday that she has extended the coronavirus state of emergency declaration for an additional 60 days, until the beginning of September — delivering a message to Oregonians that they "have a choice" to help save lives in the coming days.
"When I first declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus, there were 14 cases of COVID-19 in Oregon. Today, there have been over 8,600 cases, with over a quarter of those cases identified in the previous two weeks of June," Brown said. "While hospitalizations remain relatively low, we have seen how rapidly those numbers can climb. And, sadly, 207 Oregonians have lost their lives to this disease. Without a doubt, COVID-19 continues to pose a real and present threat to Oregonians in communities across the state, from Malheur County to Umatilla to Lincoln."
An emergency declaration serves as the legal underpinning for all of the coronavirus-related executive orders issued by Governor Brown since Oregon's outbreak began in earnest during the month of March. Extending the emergency declaration allows for those orders to stay in effect.
In May, a Baker County Circuit Court judge rendered those executive orders "null and void" while presiding on a lawsuit filed by a group of Oregon churches, businesses, and individuals. The plaintiffs argued that Brown's state of emergency had exceeded its statutory time limit without renewal from the legislature.
The Oregon Supreme Court ultimately threw out the judge's injunction, saying that the particular statute under which the Governor issued her state of emergency did not have a time limit and could be extended at her discretion.
“Now, we again find ourselves at a crossroads as a state," Brown continued. "The individual choices each of us makes will decide whether Oregon either flattens the curve of new COVID-19 infections, or sees a devastating spike in cases that overwhelms our hospital capacity in the next month.
“If we all follow the advice of doctors –– if you wear a face covering in public, if you wash your hands, if you cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze, if you stay home when you are sick –– together, we can keep our friends and loved ones healthy and safe."
On Monday, the Governor issued a new order extending face covering requirements for indoor public spaces, already in place for eight Oregon counties, to the entire state.
“If too many Oregonians continue to ignore these precautions, we could see an exponential growth in cases, and newly reopened communities and businesses could close again. We have a chance, now, before the Fourth of July weekend, to make sure that Oregon’s COVID-19 numbers don’t follow the same skyrocketing trajectory of states like Texas or Florida or Arizona," Brown said.
“Oregon, you have a choice. You can help to save lives again. What happens next is up to all of us.”
Brown's office said that she would "review and reevaluate" each of her emergency orders every 60 days to see if they need to be continued, changed, or removed.