ROSEBURG, Ore. – The Douglas County Board of Commissioners announced early Thursday morning they will be among the first Oregon counties that will begin reopening.
The board said they received a notice late Wednesday night that their application to start phase one was approved by Gov. Kate Brown. Officials said the approval is effective May 15.
“This has been a tumultuous time for many of our citizens, as well as for the livelihood of our local businesses, but hopefully the reopening process will bring renewed life back into our struggling economy. Douglas County worked hard to make sure every aspect of managing the health and safety of our citizens was carefully prepared and organized in order to be on the forefront of the reopening process,” said commissioner Chris Boice.
Douglas County submitted their application on May 8.
Douglas County Public Health officer Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer said residents may see more cases, but they will work to limit the impact of the virus.
“I am glad we have done so well in limiting the outbreaks and keeping our health care facilities from getting overwhelmed during the pandemic. I think we are as ready as anywhere to safely begin reopening our businesses,” Dannenhoffer said.
Some Roseburg residents said the county should've opened up a long time ago.
“We want to return back to a normal life," said resident Paul Eckel. "People want to have birthday parties, they want to get together, they want to go to the bar, have a drink. People want to socialize.”
Coos County has also announced they have been given the green light.
Gov. Kate Brown is expected to hold a press conference at 10 a.m. on May 14 to announce which counties will be allowed to reopen for phase one.
Under phase one, restaurants and bars can open up for sit-down services with restrictions, and so can barbers and hair salons. Gatherings of up to 25 people will be allowed.
In their applications, county leaders needed to show how they believe they have met the state's seven prerequisites for phase one. Those requirements include a decline in positive cases, sufficient personal protective equipment, and a testing rate of 30 people per 10,000 every week.