Jackson County submits plans for reopening to the state

MEDFORD, Ore. — The state began accepting reopening applications from counties today.

“We have established a detailed set of prerequisites that any county that wants to reopen must meet,” Governor Kate Brown said.

Oregon counties are now able to submit reopening applications as they look to potentially reopen next Friday, May 15th. Jackson County said it hit send as soon as it could. According to the governor, counties have to meet specific requirements in order to open back up. Those include a decline in COVID-19 cases, testing and contact tracing systems and the ability to isolate and quarantine any new cases to name a few.

Jackson County said the only potential hiccup in its application is the number of contact tracers it has, but it has a plan in the works.

“The contact tracing. We currently have staff available to take on that position they’ll have to be transferred from a different position,” Jackson County Commissioner, Rick Dyer said. “We should have at least 15 who can take on that role when needed.”

That means the county would be able to trace the steps of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and contact anyone they may have been in close proximity too. Dr. Jim shames said the close contact would require tracing if the contact exceeded 15 minutes. So, smaller interactions like checking out at a grocery store aren’t necessarily what they’re looking for.

Dr. Jim Shames says the county is working hard to make sure those systems are in place to reopen the county.

“We have community partners that we are engaging with now to see what it would take to bolster up to the level the OHA feels we need in order to open up,” Public Health Officer, Dr. Jim Shames said.

Shames says right now Public Health still has spots to fill for contact tracers. He says they’re working to bring people from other departments or even contract with hospitals to fill those positions. For now, commissioners will wait and see what the state’s decision will be, but they’re confident we’ll be able to open next week.

“I would say I feel confident that in my estimation it is 90% or better chance of approval,” Dyer said.

Commissioner Dyer said the county received an email this morning that the application is being passed from the Governor’s office to the Oregon Health Authority for further review. He said they expect an answer Monday or Tuesday.

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