During these challenging times, one thing that cannot be overstressed is communication. In that regard, the City is determined to keep everyone as informed as possible as we progress through this pandemic. You can be assured that we are in sync with many decision-making bodies whose guidance and recommendations are being shared daily and the City is committed to present that data in an organized format every week in cooperation with The Nugget.

While public safety has been the first priority, our businesses are clearly struggling during these challenging times and the City is reaching out to many of them in order to better understand their situation firsthand. Again, this communication can only enhance informed decision making through this process. In our next weekly article, we will share some of the key themes from these discussions. But one thing that is clear, the resolve and ingenuity of our small businesses is frankly amazing. Their positive attitude and complete understanding of the severity of the situation is to be commended.

In the meantime, let us attempt to summarize the latest thinking from the Governor’s office in regard to the phased re-opening of our economy in Oregon.

The Federal Government is giving authority to each state in regards to setting the parameters for re-opening of our businesses. The Governor has established a three-phase approach to this re-opening. The first phase includes restaurants and bars, most retail, childcare, outdoor recreation, and other personal services (hair/nail salons, etc.).

This phase is targeted for completion sometime in the second half of May but there are prerequisites that must be met before a county or region can initiate Phase 1. While many of these prerequisites are set at the county level, some are set at a health region (Deschutes County is in Health Region 7 that includes seven other Central and Eastern Oregon counties).

Deschutes County has been working on a “Reopening Framework” they plan to get to the State by the end of this week. As they are available, we will post the latest drafts of these prerequisites in detail on the City’s website. For brevity, we listed the seven criteria but will not got into details for this column:

1. Declining Prevalence of COVID-19 (from a statistical standpoint)

2. Minimum Testing Regimen

3. Contact Tracing System

4. Isolation Facilities

5. Finalized Statewide Sector Guidelines

6. Sufficient Healthcare Capacity

7. Sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Supply

Once the above prerequisites have been met, a county will be allowed to initiate re-opening of the businesses that are qualified in Phase 1. The final step will be public safety requirements that businesses (sector by sector) must follow which again will be dictated at the State level. These include social distancing factors, PPE (like masks, gloves, and sanitation) and capacity constraints of the particular business. A final recommendation on public safety requirements is forthcoming from the State and will be published in a future article. Another thing that is clear from our recent discussions with our businesses is that they are more than willing to follow these parameters and keep our community safe.