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Stops in northwestern Pacific amid rising virus outbreaks

When the coronavirus epidemic hit the northwestern Oregon and Washington states, their rulers responded quickly with cut-offs. Now they are going to impose new restrictions as infections ալ hospitalization rises to alarming levels.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has placed 15 counties in the state’s largest cities in the state’s extreme risk category since Friday, imposing restrictions that include banning indoor dining. Brown issued his decree on Tuesday, saying the rise in COVID-19 hospitalization threatened to put pressure on doctors.

“If we do not act now, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers in Oregon will be pushing the boundaries to treat COVID-19 severe cases,” Brown said.

Washington Gov. Ayee Insley is expected to impose new restrictions on a number of counties next week, probably including the state’s largest, forcing businesses and churches to reduce collection opportunities by 50 percent to 25 percent.

Inslee will decide which regions should be returned to Phase 2 of its reopening plan after evaluating public health safety benchmark numbers. The Seattle Public Health Director, who includes Seattle, expects it to be commissioned by Inslee.

“We may just get ready for it, not just wait,” Seattle-King King County Public Health Director Patti Hayes told King County on Tuesday.

These steps come with irony, as the supply of vaccines exceeds demand in many places.

“There are appointments all over the state now,” Brown said.

For example, the director of public health in the northern Umatila area of ​​Oregon, who was downgraded to an above-average risk category on Tuesday, told state officials that last week the vaccine could be sent elsewhere և probably calling it this week.

“Our demand is falling sharply,” Fiumara, director of public health, told the East Oregonian newspaper. The county has about 6,000 doses; it administered less than 500 last week as health officials sat idle waiting for people to be vaccinated.

The level of vaccinations is mainly less in rural areas than is needed by health professionals. According to the Oregon Health Authority, only 19,000 people have been fully or partially vaccinated in the area where 78,000 people live.

The restaurant sector was against Brown’s move, with the Oregon Restaurant and Residential Association announcing that by 2020 the state had lost more than 1,000 food businesses, with 200 closed so far this year.

“The state administration’s move is deafening to the tens of thousands of Oregonians who work in our state’s restaurants, bars, and try to pay their bills,” said Jason Brandt, the group’s chief executive officer.

Brown’s office said it is working with state lawmakers to approve a $ 20 million small business emergency assistance package to provide immediate assistance to affected businesses in high-risk areas through a commercial lease assistance program.

“It’s great that we have more money in the reservoir for the Round Hospitality industry,” Brandt said.

But he added. “The money allocated … has never been close enough for that small business to become complete.”

In the Oregon Senate on Wednesday, Republicans accused Brown of “re-enacting drastic, undemocratic blockades that threaten the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Oregons.”

To protest against Brown’s order, Republican senators insisted that the bills be read in their entirety, slowing down the legislative process.

“Republicans stand shoulder to shoulder with working Oregonians,” said Fred Irod, leader of the Senate General Assembly.

In order to mitigate the blow to businessmen, Brown also increases the external capacity of bars, restaurants and other areas from 50 to 100 people in high-risk areas, as long as they have physical distance and other safety measures.

Some of Oregon’s largest cities, including Portland, Salem, Bend and Eugene, are among the countries in the worst-hit category coming into force on Friday.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, whose city is partly in high-risk Multnoma County, urged people to use safety protocols to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

“The key to reopening our city is to end the epidemic,” Wheeler said.

The Oregon Health Authority has stated that the counties will not move into the extreme risk category as long as the peak daily number of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients across the country is at least 300, including a 15% increase over the previous seven days. The state is now beyond that threshold: the current daily peak is 328 beds. Oregon has a population of over 4.2 million.

Washington is also taking a step back. In March, Inslee allowed restaurants and other closed establishments across the state to operate at half capacity instead of 25%.

But as in Oregon and other states, the number of coronavirus և hospitalizations has been steadily rising in recent weeks.

As of Tuesday, King County had registered 229 newly confirmed coronavirus cases per 100,000 population in the last 14 days և 5.5 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 population in the last seven days, the Seattle Times reported.

To avoid stricter restrictions, Washington counties must report less than 200 cases per 100,000 population, less than five hospitalizations.

As of Monday, the Washington Department of Health reported 675 people hospitalized for COVID-19 across the state, an increase of more than 100 in two weeks. Washington has a population of over 7.7 million.

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Follow Andrew Selsky on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andrewselsky

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