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Some counties could start reopening soon, Gov. Brown says

She said some rural Oregon counties where there are almost no coronavirus cases or hospitalizations could begin reopening slowly starting on May 15.

Posted: May 1, 2020 5:23 PM
Updated: May 1, 2020 5:42 PM

SALEM, Ore. -- In a press conference on Friday, Gov. Kate Brown announced Oregon's plans for reopening the state.

She said some rural Oregon counties where there are almost no coronavirus cases or hospitalizations could begin reopening slowly starting on May 15. 

Douglas County officials said this news came as a shock. 

A week ago, Douglas County and four other southwest Oregon counties sent a letter to Brown urging her to start reopening the economy in their counties.

RELATED: DOUGLAS COUNTY URGING BROWN TO REOPEN ECONOMY

Officials said they haven’t heard back from Brown, and they're not even sure she got the letter.

Douglas County's public information officer Tamara Howell said they're anxious to hear if they are one of those counties to get the green light to begin the process of reopening.

“We do have a low percentage of outbreak numbers so we are hoping we are included in that and anticipating. Hopefully (Brown) will reach out and contact us and set up a conference with us as well,” Howell said.

Brown said the strategy to reopen the economy includes testing and tracing the virus. Testing should be available for any Oregonian showing symptoms of the virus and for those who live in vulnerable living settings. She said we need ongoing widespread randomized testing too. 

The plan to restart Oregon’s economy shows a three-phase approach, with more restrictions loosened during each phase.

MORE: GOV. BROWN UPDATES FRAMEWORK FOR REOPENING OREGON

Brown said Oregon will launch an ambitious COVID-19 random testing program as it prepares to reopen the economy called "Be the Key." The random program will be carried out in a partnership with Oregon Health & Science University.

Officials said a request for volunteers will go out in mid-May. When any of the 100,000 volunteers develop COVID-19 symptoms, they will be tested. Experts say the random testing helps determine where the virus is located in Oregon. 

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