The past several weeks have been exceptionally challenging for everyone. It is difficult to understate the impact that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had on our lives.
Starting May 15th many of us will see the easing of restrictions on how we go about our days. The reopening process in Oregon is happening at the county level and 31 counties have been approved for Phase 1. Clackamas and Marion Counties will remain at “Baseline” status, while most others will be moving into a Phase 1 status. In Phase 1, there will be a limited re-opening of restaurants, gyms and shopping areas, and gatherings of up to 25 people will also be allowed, with appropriate physical distancing.
To see which counties are moving to Phase 1, you can visit Governor Kate Brown’s Website: https://govstatus.egov.com/or-covid-19.
While it is exciting to have these changes coming, I urge people to proceed with extreme caution. Just because it is now permissible to do something, doesn’t necessarily mean we should do it, and we have to remember how truly serious our current situation still is.
The extent to which we have contained the novel coronavirus at this point is unclear. In the United States on May 14, 2020 there were more than 20,000 new COVID-19 cases and 1,700 deaths. Again, every single day in this country, more than 1000 people are dying from this disease, and more than 83,000 people have died from it since this all began just a few months ago.
COVID-19 knows no borders and thus far Oregon has been fortunate in that we have had relatively few cases. This is likely due in part to social distancing and other practices that have been implemented and widely adhered to in the area. There is still no effective treatment for COVID-19 so prevention is critical. As we reopen our counties, state, and country, we run the risk of making a bad situation worse, and causing unnecessary cases of COVID-19. To further complicate things, because of the time it takes for someone to show symptoms of the disease or present for care, it may take weeks for us to understand the true impact of these changes that are going into effect on May 15th.
This is going to be a slow process at best. Counties approved for Phase 1 will stay there for a minimum of 3 weeks before they are even eligible to start Phase 2. And of course if there is any evidence of COVID-19 worsening then a county may move back to baseline status (stay-at-home order). To put this into further perspective, according to the Governor’s website, “Large gatherings and events are not possible until a reliable treatment or prevention is available. As a result, these are cancelled or significantly modified through at least September.”
So our best chance in all this is to continue to pull together as a community, and as a country, and to be smart about our words and actions. Hand washing and social distancing are still the most effective ways to protect yourself and others. Wearing a mask is still generally recommended when you leave your house. You do not have to wear a N-95 respirator but you should at least wear a cloth face covering. You may have coronavirus and not know it. Not everyone who has coronavirus shows symptoms. By wearing a mask, you can prevent spreading the virus to other people. Frankly, I have had a lot of patients tell me they find it helps their seasonal allergy symptoms lately too!
Through all of this, it is critical to stay up to date and have accurate information. In addition to the Governor’s website above, I recommend people access resources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and Oregon Health Authority:
If nothing else, please have accurate information! The wrong information could lead to actions that are illegal, life-threatening or both! In addition to the online resources above, the family of Pacific Medical Group clinics are here to help you. We continue to offer weekend and same-day appointments, and all of our clinics are now offering virtual visits.