August 6, 2020

The Chairs of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties this week submitted a detailed request to Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen seeking state support to reduce the sporadic untraceable spread of COVID-19 in the Portland metro region.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury joined in a Tri-County plea for coordinated state support on COVID-19

Multnomah County was placed on a state watch list July 30 after the rate of cases untraceable to a known source passed 50 cases per 100,000 for the proceeding 14 days. The addition to that list triggers additional support from the state. 

As part of a metro region with nearly half the state’s total cases, and tied together for reopening, Multnomah County reached out to neighboring counties to draft a coordinated request is hopes of achieving a lasting and wide-reaching decline in the rate of infection

Multnomah County, together with Clackamas and Washington Counties, submitted the proposal for support this week.

Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington joined in a regional call for increased state support
Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington joined in a regional call for increased state support

The counties are asking for adjustments to the state’s disease response system and increased communication with county epidemiologists to allow public health staff to be more efficient and effective in their COVID-19 response. 

That includes:

  • Streamlining the state’s outbreak reporting system.

  • Creating a data dictionary for the state’s disease reporting database so county staff have a clear definition of terms, as well as training videos and guides that addresses each data entry field.

  • Employing a Personal Protective Equipment distribution model that aligns with epidemiological data.

  • Discussing with local public health officials the best metrics for capturing disease risk and response in the context of a metro area

  • Allowing local health officials to provide input as new questions are considered for addition to the state’s disease reporting system.

Other requests include agency funding for culturally and age-specific multimedia communications, staff to integrate state-funded community based organizations into the local public health response, and for the purchase of  adequate reusable and washable face coverings to assure every resident in the tri-county region has at least two face coverings.

“We hope to use this opportunity to work even more closely with the State,” said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. “This additional support will allow us to elevate a regional public health response that gives us a real chance to slow and contain the spread of COVID-19. The health and safety of the Tri-County communities depend on it.”