Gov. Kate Brown’s announcement on Friday mandating a statewide, two-week freeze in response to a surge in new COVID cases is not something any of us wanted to hear.
For quite some time, health experts have been predicting an escalation in case counts this fall and winter, and now that has become a reality. Oregon has recently experienced several days on which there were more than 1,000 new cases added to the total.
Essentially, the governor’s announcement means moving back to before phase one for at least the next two weeks — possibly longer in some parts of the state. For most of us, this is a huge inconvenience, particularly as we move into the holiday season. It’s always been a time when people come together, and now, at least for the Thanksgiving holiday, the governor is asking us to cancel those plans and keep our distance from others.
If it were strictly a matter of inconvenience, or disappointment that we can’t get together with family and friends, that would be one thing. But this will be another huge hit for our local economy. Lincoln County’s unemployment rate became the worst in the state in the months after the governor instituted her “stay home, save lives” order in mid-March. Although there was a slight improvement since reopening in late May, the county still has the highest number of unemployment claims in Oregon, and now the local economy is facing a return to many of those strict limitations.
Our local businesses are hurting. Instead of gearing up for a busy holiday season, some are now having to once again lay off employees.
There are those who oppose the governor’s decision to implement this freeze statewide. Lincoln County’s new case rate has remained low for months despite dramatic increases elsewhere in the state. And some local business owners and operators are saying the “one-size-fits-all” approach applied in the spring is unfair and unwise now.
We would have to agree. Applying uniform restrictions across the state just doesn’t seem appropriate. Situations in rural parts of Oregon are far different from those in the metro areas, so all locations should not be treated the same. If cases start going up, take action then, but if cases continue to stay low, there needs to be a balance between health and safety issues versus the devastating effect on businesses.
That’s not to say people should act as though COVID no longer exists. Far from it. It is, and will continue to be a very real health threat. It’s not going to go away any time soon, and we still need to take precautions in our everyday lives. We should limit where we go and how many people we associate with. We should continue to wear facemasks and socially distance ourselves from others as much as possible.
If we truly want to make it through this in the shortest time possible, it will require some sacrifices on everyone’s part. That’s hard for a lot of us — we’re used to having our way in most every aspect of our lives. But it’s critical that we think of people other than ourselves and do what we can for the good of everybody.
There will be an end to this, we just need to stay strong and support each other.