POLK COUNTY – Polk and Marion counties will be allowed to move into Phase 2 of reopening on Friday.

Gov. Kate Brown issued a statement Wednesday saying the two counties and Hood River will move to Phase 2 and Multnomah County will begin reopening at Phase 1 on Friday.

The four counties are now able to move forward following a seven-day pause initiated by the governor last week after COVID-19 case counts increased statewide.

“I instituted the statewide pause because of the rising number of cases in both rural and urban communities. I did this to give public health experts time to assess what factors are driving the spread of the virus and make adjustments to our reopening strategy,” Brown said.  “Since then, the Oregon Health Authority has continued to analyze data in the state, including the source of the growth in new cases, hospitalizations, results of contact tracing, and other metrics. Additionally, I have consulted with independent health experts, business leaders, and local elected officials.”

Brown said COVID-19 statistics improved in all four counties over the last week.

“Marion and Polk Counties are seeing a decline in hospitalizations, and Hood River has had only one new hospital admission in the past two weeks. All three counties have implemented timely follow up on cases in the past week,” Brown said. “While Multnomah County has seen an increase in new cases recently, the county has not experienced an uptrend in new hospital admissions, and overall hospitalizations remain well within capacity.”

The movement toward full reopening comes with some new rules, however, including wearing face coverings in indoor public places and dividing up the state into regions for further reopening decisions.

“I will be instituting a requirement to wear face coverings while in indoor public spaces, such as grocery stores and other businesses, for the following counties: Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Hood River, Marion, Polk, and Lincoln,” Brown said. “This mandate will be effective beginning Wednesday, June 24.”

Marion and Polk County will be considered a single region for further reopening decisions.

“Marion and Polk Counties, which each include parts of the city of Salem, will also be treated as a unit going forward,” Brown said. “Both of these regions include a highly-connected urban area, making it difficult to monitor the disease based solely on the contours of county jurisdictional lines.”

Brown will hold a press conference Thursday at 11 a.m.

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