The Emergency Operations Center successfully submitted Grant County’s reopening plan Friday to the state for approval.

As of Sunday, according to Gov. Kate Brown’s website, Grant County’s plan is being reviewed by the Oregon Health Authority.

The process for evaluating reopening plans is on a first-come, first-served basis, according to the governor’s website.

EOC Incident Commander Dave Dobler said Brown’s office released sector-specific guidelines for restaurants, bars, barbers and salons and updated guidelines for retail, individuals and businesses.

As Friday marked the first day counties in Oregon could submit plans to reopen gradually in the aftermath of Brown’s stay-at-home orders, counties must demonstrate they can meet seven public health criteria.

The benchmarks counties must meet include declining levels of COVID-19 hospital admissions, minimum levels of testing and contact tracing capacity, adequate hospital surge capacity, quarantine facilities and personal protective equipment and finalized sector guidelines from the state to communicate to individual businesses.

Parts of those criteria — PPE capacity, hospital and testing — must be met within a health region, groups of adjacent counties established by the governor.

Grant County will be in region seven, along with Deschutes, Jefferson, Klamath, Crook, Lake, Wheeler and Harney counties.

Dobler said Thursday in a teleconference meeting he received confirmation that region seven meets the criteria to move forward.

Among the benchmarks counties must hit in the governor’s reopening plan is a 14-day decline in the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals — but this does not apply to counties with fewer than five positive cases such as Grant County.

Grant County has had one confirmed positive case in mid-March, and the patient, who was not identified, followed all public health recommendations, which included staying home and self-monitoring for symptoms, according to a health department press release.

The regions must also show they have the ability to test at a rate of 30 per 10,000 residents per week, and that there are enough testing sites that underserved communities can access. Hospitals also must have enough room and personal protective equipment to address an outbreak.

As of May 12, Grant County has administered 80 tests.

The governor’s plan also calls for contact tracers, people who interview those who test positive for the virus and then try to identify all people who might have been in close contact with that person.

The state’s plan calls for 15 contact tracers per 10,000 residents.

The Grant County reopening plan recommends the governor’s office consider hiring county-based state contact tracers.

EOC employee Chris Rushing, who presented the county’s reopening plan Thursday, said the EOC is pushing for those jobs to be local.

County officials, who originally submitted the plan Monday, submitted a revised version to reflect the governor’s decision to allow restaurants and bars to open within two weeks of the plan being approved. Initially, Brown’s plan called for restaurants and bars to open up during the second phase.

According to Oregon Health Authority guidelines, restaurants and bars would have to comply with social distancing, keeping tables at least 6 feet apart, and employees would be required to wear face masks.

The governor’s plan is less restrictive in that it allows the business to determine maximum occupancy to maintain social distancing requirements and limit customers accordingly.

The plan limits dining parties to 10 or fewer and does not allow for restaurants to combine parties who have not chosen to sit together for shared seating situations. Bars will need to eliminate most seating. Restaurants and breweries are required to close by 10 p.m.

The governor’s plan raises the maximum allowed in social gatherings from 10 people to 25 in Phase 1.

The most stringent requirements are on barbershops, salons and tanning booths. The businesses will be required to ask customers prior to scheduling an appointment if they have had any symptoms of COVID-19, or had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the virus. If the business is willing, the state is encouraging owners to check the temperature of each client.

The businesses are required to keep the contact information of each client, which includes date and time of their appointment and who served them with the purpose of tracking the potential spread of the virus.

Should OHA approve Grant County’s plan, the county could begin reopening as early as May 15. The first phase could last 21 days, at which point, absent a surge in cases, the county could transition to the second phase.

After 21 days in Phase 1, the state will begin Phase 2 of the reopening process. The goal of the next phase will be to expand gathering size, allow some office work and begin allowing visitation to congregate care. The details of Phase 2 will be based on data collected during Phase 1, according to the governor’s website.


Steven Mitchell is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. Contact him at or 541-575-0710.

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