SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday, April 29, extended Oregon’s state of emergency for COVID-19 until June 28, saying variants of the disease are driving a fourth surge of the pandemic and causing increased cases and hospitalizations.
The declaration allows Brown to issue executive orders restricting activity and helps the state utilize federal COVID-relief funds, the governor’s office said.
Brown is putting 15 counties that encompass the state’s biggest cities into the state’s extreme risk category starting April 30, imposing restrictions that include banning indoor restaurant dining.
The restaurant sector has objected to Brown’s action, with the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association declaring that the state lost more than 1,000 food service businesses in 2020 and that 200 more closed permanently so far this year.
Brown said her actions are temporary.
“I intend to fully reopen our economy by the end of June, and the day is approaching when my emergency orders can eventually be lifted,” Brown said in a statement. “How quickly we get there is up to each and every one of us doing our part.”
Brown said more than 1.2 million people in the state have been fully vaccinated, but the “overwhelming majority” of new cases are from younger, unvaccinated residents. Oregon’s population is more than 4.2 million.
She said hospitalizations nearly doubled in the last two weeks, to more than 300.
In a similar move, the city of La Grande announced on Friday that City Manager Robert Strope extended the emergency declaration for La Grande through June 28 to coincide with Brown’s orders.
— The Observer contributed to this report.