EUGENE, Ore. – Amid new record high daily coronavirus case counts, Gov. Kate Brown announced Friday she’s upping enforcement on the new statewide face covering requirement for the Fourth of July holiday.
This is specifically centered around restaurants, bars and other businesses to ensure they comply with state rules over the Fourth of July weekend and beyond.
Several community members told KEZI 9 News that the added enforcement is much needed, as many people have started to disregard the guidelines in place.
"With the increase in cases, I feel like more people have become more lax and we kind of tend to forget about it a little bit. So I feel like this is kind of a necessity, especially if people are gathering this weekend," Fall Creek resident Kim Good said.
One local teacher said celebrating the holiday isn't worth the risk of taking a step backwards in the reopening process. She told KEZI 9 News the long term effects of disregarding the guidelines are far worse than changing your holiday plans.
"Ultimately it's just going to make the virus last longer and its going to impact our school year. I'm an educator so thinking about going back to school and if we aren't able to open back up, its going to affect me personally, but then all the parents who have children are going to have to teach them at home," Eugene teacher Beth Brex said.
Eight counties will be on a COVID-19 watch list: Jefferson, Lake, Lincoln, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union and Wasco. The governor’s announcement said the spread of coronavirus in these counties has risen to an alarming level, and they are seeing high levels of community spread, which means cases cannot be traced to a specific location or event.
Health officials will watch the counties closely in the coming days. If they don’t see a decrease in cases soon, business closures and smaller gathering limits may be ordered, Brown said.
“I am asking Oregonians this holiday weekend to take urgent steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 by wearing face coverings, avoiding large gatherings, and physically distancing,” said Brown. “And state enforcement agencies will be out in force to ensure businesses are in compliance. Those businesses not complying with gathering size limits, face covering requirements, physical distancing rules, and other standards face stiff penalties.”
Oregon Occupation Safety and Health and Oregon Liquor Control Commission are leading the effort. They will be conducting spot checks and inspections over the holiday weekend. Those that refuse to comply could face citations, fines, and Red Warning Notices, meaning the busines would be closed until the hazardous condition is remedied.
“We stand at a crossroads this weekend––we can either stop the spread of COVID-19, or infections and hospitalizations will rise across Oregon and I will reinstate restrictive measures in impacted counties and business sectors," Brown said.
On Thursday, Oregon Health Authority reported a record 375 new confirmed and presumptive cases for the state.