PORTLAND, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown on Monday ordered the closure of bars and restaurants in Oregon for four weeks to fight the spread of coronavirus.
“I know Oregonians are some of the most resourceful people in the country and in times of crisis we come together and support each other,” Brown said. “I’m asking you to do that now. Isolation and separation from our friends and neighbors is the only way to flatten the curve and get through to the other side.”
Nearly 150 restaurant owners had signed an online petition by Monday asking Brown to order such a shutdown. The owners have suffered a loss of business but cannot qualify for a loss of business insurance until there is a government order to close.
“We fear that by remaining open even in limited capacity, we are amplifying the COVID-19 crisis, not doing our part to flatten the curve or care for the community we so passionately serve. Yet we cannot close our businesses without your support,” the letter read.
Earlier Brown had said that elected officials around the state told her that restaurants provide a lot of meals to the elderly and vulnerable people, especially in rural communities. Those groups of Oregonians are also the most at-risk of infection from the coronavirus.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday ordered all restaurants and bars to close down, though restaurants can still offer takeout and delivery services. Many other governors around the country have issued similar bans, including Illinois, Ohio and Massachusetts, and some cities have taken the same actions.
Brown also told reporters in a conference call that a White House “testing czar” said private labs will have the capacity to do 1 million tests this week, 2 million next week and 5 million the week after for COVID-19.
“That’s good news,” said Brown.
Oregon’s largest hospital is preparing for a surge in coronavirus patients by reducing non-essential surgeries and halting all medical research except that dedicated to the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of COVID-19, Oregon Health & Science University said Monday.
The hospital said it expected a surge in patients “as early as this week, but most certainly next week,” and said those individuals would require hospitalization and intensive care. All non-critical staff were strongly urged to work from home if possible and visitors were being limited to two people over age 16, the hospital said.
Legacy Health, another major hospital network, closed its hospitals to the general public and limited visits to one healthy person over age 16 who was accompanying a patient. Pediatric patients, end-of-life patients, and patients in the birth center will be allowed two visitors.
“Most health care professionals have faced challenging times as well as joyful, fulfilling times in their careers. This is going to be one of the challenging times,” OHSU said in its statement.
Oregon officials said Sunday that the state lab had materials on hand to process only up to 1,000 tests.
There are currently 39 confirmed cases in Oregon. Test results for 182 other people are pending, the Oregon Health Authority’s web site said. State health officials suspect there are hundreds of undiagnosed cases and that if left unchecked, the number could blossom into the tens of thousands.
Oregon has reported one death.