PORTLAND - Gov. Kate Brown has created an eight-member panel of medical professionals to advise her on the state’s coronavirus response.
The committee, which includes Bend pulmonologist Louis D’Avignon, convened via videoconference for the first time on Tuesday. Members are to meet twice weekly to review Oregon’s testing capacity, hospital capacity, acquisition of personal protective equipment and effectiveness of social distancing measures.
Brown also extended indefinitely her mandate that bars, restaurants and other eateries serve only takeout or delivery items, with no on-site consumption allowed. That executive order had been scheduled to end on April 14.
In a telephone conference call with Oregon members of AARP, Brown reiterated that social distancing has helped “flatten the curve” – slowing the rate of new cases of COVID-19 so as not to overwhelm the state’s health care system.
“While we know what we’re doing is working, we have to embrace the reality that unfortunately Oregon may see an increase in cases in the coming days and weeks,” Brown said.
Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who joined in the conference call, emphasized that there is no coronavirus vaccine or miracle cure, despite what scammers may claim.
“The only thing we know that works is social distancing” to reduce the likelihood of transmission, Brown said.
Earlier Tuesday, the state’s top emergency management official encouraged Oregonians to enjoy the nice weather but stay close to home and practice social distancing.
Andrew Phelps, the director of the Office of Emergency Management, suggested that people garden, mow the lawn, and open their home’s doors and windows to let the fresh air in, but not participate in group sports or large gatherings.
Phelps said it was too early to tell when Oregon might ease rules on social distancing and restrictions on business operations.
“We’re not going to know when we’re out of the woods until we’re out of the woods,” he said.
Phelps also announced that Oregon would receive 78 pallets of personal protective equipment on Wednesday from the U.S. Agency for International Development. Although he did not have specific numbers, Phelps said the shipment would include tens of thousands of masks, gloves and other protective gear, which the state would distribute to counties and tribes.