March 12, 2020

Governor Kate Brown late Wednesday announced limits on gatherings of more than 250 people to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon.

“Nobody is immune to this virus,” Brown said in a press release. “We are seeing cases across multiple counties and age groups, and in people exposed through different circumstances. It's time for us all to do what we can to slow its spread and take care of one another."

Brown will appear Thursday morning at 9 a.m. alongside Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to lay out her directive in more detail. The action is based on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oregon public health experts, epidemiologists, and health professionals, and includes:

Large gatherings: All large gatherings over 250 people will be canceled statewide effective immediately for four weeks. A gathering is defined as any event in a space in which appropriate social distancing of a minimum of three feet cannot be maintained. 

Schools: In addition to previous guidance issued on March 8, 2020 to keep schools open, all non-essential school-associated gatherings and group activities should be canceled — such as group parent meetings, field trips, and competitions.

Workplace: Recommended implementation of distancing measures including an increased physical space between employees in offices and worksites, limited in-person meetings, limited travel, and staggered work schedules where possible.

Long-Term Care and Assisted Living: Strict limitations announced this week by the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Human Services remain in place.

The Oregon Health Authority also announced steps to expand access to COVID-19 testing. State epidemiologists have updated COVID-19 testing guidelines to emphasize that outpatient clinicians can order a test for the virus from a commercial laboratory, at their discretion, without OHA authorization. 

In addition, the procedure for collecting a COVID-19 sample is no longer classified as a high-risk, airborne testing process, requiring N95 masks. Under the recommendations, health care providers will only be required to wear a regular mask, gown, gloves, and eye protections, making the procedure for safely collecting samples simpler to administer for health care workers and easier to obtain for patients. 

Finally, state health officials announced that they have agreements with five hospital systems to conduct COVID-19 testing. State health officials and hospital administrators urged anyone considering a COVID-19 test to consult with your health care provider before seeking a test at a local clinic or hospital.