EUGENE, Ore. -- Twenty counties in Oregon are waiting to find out if they can move to phase two of reopening.
Friday is the first day it could happen if the governor gives us the green light. In our area, Benton County is the only one that hasn't applied yet.
In the application, county administrator Steve Mokrohisky told the governor we should be ready to move forward because of our low case numbers, sufficient personal protective equipment and 37 active contact tracers.
For phase one, Gov. Kate Brown gave Lane County the OK a day in advance.
While public health officials agree we are ready, they admit this weekend's gatherings increase our risk of an uptick in cases.
"I think as we've said throughout this reopening process, anytime you either ease restrictions and that brings more people together or people choose to gather, that does increase the risk," said county spokeswoman Devon Ashbridge.
Public health officials also continue to use sentinel testing to find out how coronavirus is spreading in vulnerable communities, and the new cases over the weekend are proof the testing is working.
Since the beginning of the sentinel testing in our city, two rounds of tests have been administered to Latino communities which are considered vulnerable and at an increased risk of getting coronavirus.
The county has 37 contact tracers currently with a list of 40 interested in the training process if the need arises.
What they found is that there were a number of people in the Latino community who were asymptomatic but positive for COVID-19, and with contact tracing they were able to alert these people and isolate the virus, preventing it from spreading further.
Ashbridge said they're not done and are looking for ways to expand testing for this community.
"Public health has plans to work with the county's equity and access advisory board to identify some opportunities and locations to conduct more of that sentinel testing both in our metro areas and rural communities," she said.
The equity and access advisory board advises the county administrator on policies and practices surrounding equity and is made up of nine people from underrepresented communities as well as people who live both in and outside of the Eugene-Springfield metro area.
Sentinel testing conducted in the homeless population did not yield any positive results, but officials said they plan for testing of these communities to continue.