Friday, 07 August 2020 21:46

OR Governor, Health Experts Considering Interstate Travel Ban as Counties See Surge in COVID-19 Cases

Written by Tim Gruver, The Center Square

Travel may get complicated in Oregon if discussions between Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and lawmakers bear fruit.

Brown's press secretary confirmed Wednesday that travel restrictions have been suggested by members of the governor’s Medical Advisory Panel in light of COVID-19 cases linked to travel in southern Oregon.


Press Secretary Charles Boyle said the governor is “asking the health experts at the Oregon Health Authority and the Medical Advisory Panel for more data on travel-related spread of COVID-19, as well as recommendations for health and safety measures to address such cases.”


According to Boyle, Brown discussed the travel restrictions’ impacts on local economies and supply chains with state lawmakers on Aug. 4. The governor has previously floated the idea of prioritizing travel restrictions for tourist travel from high-risk states and communities.


“Conversations are ongoing about how those restrictions could work,” Boyle said.


The U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment establishes the “right to travel,” and can be revoked through due process of law.


Portland sees some of the heaviest interstate traffic in the state. The city’s I-205 bridge connecting it to Vancouver, WA, across the Columbia River sees 166,152 weekday crossings, according to research from the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council.


Oregon counties bordering California, Washington and Idaho have shown some of the fastest rises in COVID-19 outbreaks in recent weeks. Brown has since rolled back the phased reopening of northeastern Umatilla and Morrow counties ahead of the school year.


As of Aug. 5, Umatilla and Morrow counties are reporting roughly 23.5% and 22% positive test rates, respectively, Oregon Health Authority data shows.


Positive test rates in the two counties have climbed sharply since the last week of May, when test rates stood at 3.2 and 4.55 positive, respectively.


Counties have roughly a month to whittle down their COVID-19 numbers to at least 10 cases per 100,000 people and 5% positive test rates for three straight weeks to reopen schools.


Oregon K-12 schools reopen around the second and third weeks of September as many school districts resort to online instruction-only models following outcry from teachers and parents over in-person instruction.


On Aug. 5, the Oregon Health Authority reported 342 new COVID-19 cases and five new deaths, bringing the statewide case total to 19,699 and the death toll to 333.


We thank The Center Square for reprint permission. 

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