County Operations under Two-Week Pause and Freeze

For Immediate Release: Friday, November 13, 2020

Sponsored by: County Administrative Office

Public urged to access services remotely during pause and freeze

COVID-19 Case Counts as of Nov. 11, 2020

Washington County services will be delivered remotely as much as possible in response to Governor Kate Brown’s “Two-Week Pause” and statewide “Two-Week Freeze.” The governor’s pause for Washington County began on Nov. 11 and the statewide freeze begins Nov. 18. 

Although essential functions are still being provided throughout the organization, Washington County officials are taking immediate actions to limit person-to-person appearances among staff and the public unless absolutely necessary. 

The public is urged to access county services through telephone, email, webpages or other electronic means. Meetings of the Board of County Commissioners will be held remotely for the rest of the calendar year, beginning Tuesday, November 17. Instructions on how to access board meetings can be found on the Washington County website. More information about how county services may have been curtailed can be found on the Washington County website as well. 

“I know these steps can be challenging for the community we serve, and we may need to keep these measures in place even longer than the timelines Governor Brown has announced today,” said Washington County Administrator Tanya Ange. “Unfortunately, the cost of NOT taking these actions can be detrimental to the capacity of our health care system and devastating to yet more families affected by this deadly virus.” 

“Living with this virus is burdensome at best, life-threatening at worst and has disproportionately affected our Latinx residents in particular,” said Washington County Board of Commissioners Chair Kathryn Harrington. “Despite the hardship, if everyone does their part, we stand a better chance of returning our case counts to the downward trend our community was experiencing during the summer. We all want more businesses to be open, more travel and recreational opportunities and to get our school-aged children back in the classroom, but we can’t unless we change the trends. We can do this if we wear our masks, avoid gatherings with those beyond our household and follow the other guidance announced by Governor Brown this week.”

Washington County has seen exponential growth in daily cases since the end of October. After the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Washington County on February 28, daily case counts began to peak in the low 20s. As the county entered Phase 1 in June under the Governor’s Re-opening framework, daily cases grew, spiking at 75 on July 16, but then declined by the end of the summer. Daily case counts so far this November are routinely over 100 – five times as many cases as the county experienced in the early days of the pandemic – and given that people are likely to spend more time indoors during the cold weather months, the trend is for higher case counts to come. 

“Unfortunately, our collective efforts to convince people to modify their behavior to slow the spread of this disease haven’t been successful,” said Public Health Division Manager Tricia Mortell. “Sometimes policies are necessary to bring about meaningful change. This is one of those extraordinarily difficult times, and we support the governor in her decision to put additional restrictions and guidelines in place.”

Under the Two-Week Pause that began Nov. 11 in nine Oregon counties, the governor is:

  • Urging all businesses to mandate work from home to the greatest extent possible.
  • Pausing long-term care facility visits that take place indoors to protect staff and residents.
  • Reducing maximum restaurant capacity to 50 people (including customers and staff) for indoor dining, with a maximum party size of six. Continuing to encourage outdoor dining and take out.
  • Reducing the maximum capacity of other indoor activities to 50 people (includes gyms, fitness organizations/studios, bowling alleys, ice rinks, indoor sports, pools, and museums).
  • Limiting social gatherings to your household, or no more than six people if the gathering includes those from outside your household, reducing the frequency of those social gatherings (significantly in a two-week period), and keeping the same six people in your social gathering circle.

Under the statewide Two-Week Freeze, the governor is:

  • Limiting social get-togethers (indoors and outdoors) to no more than six people, total, from no more than two households.
  • Limiting faith-based organizations to a maximum of 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors.
  • Limiting eating and drinking establishments to take-out and delivery only.
  • Closing gyms and fitness organizations.
  • Closing indoor recreational facilities, museums, indoor entertainment activities, and indoor pools and sports courts.
  • Closing zoos, gardens, aquariums, outdoor entertainment activities, and outdoor pools.
  • Limiting grocery stores and pharmacies to a maximum of 75% capacity and encouraging curbside pickup.
  • Limiting retail stores and retail malls (indoor and outdoor) to a maximum of 75% capacity and encouraging curbside pickup.
  • Closing venues (that host or facilitate indoor or outdoor events).
  • Requiring all businesses to mandate work-from-home to the greatest extent possible and closing offices to the public.
  • Prohibiting indoor visiting in long-term care facilities (outdoor visitation permitted for supporting quality of life).

In addition, Governor Brown and public health experts are continuing to emphasize the importance of wearing masks more diligently, keeping physically distant from those outside of one’s own household, limiting social contacts, washing hands often and staying home when sick.

Health officials also ask that the public stay informed and educated through trustworthy sources of information, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Oregon Health Authority and Washington County Public Health Division
Questions about your specific medical needs should be directed to your health care provider.

The challenge of confronting COVID-19 can also take a toll on our mental health and sense of well-being. The Washington County Crisis Line is answered 24/7 at 503-291-9111. Washington County’s COVID-19 response resource line can be reached at 503-846-8123. Get connected to additional assistance by calling 2-1-1.

Media Contact:

Philip Bransford, Communications Officer