Watch: Multnomah County officials address Phase 1 reopening delay

The state’s most populous county remains the only county in the state yet to enter Phase 1 after Gov. Kate Brown put a hold on all reopening applications.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Last Friday, hours before Multnomah County expected to enter Phase 1, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown placed a hold on all reopening applications across the state for a week.

County officials said they were ready to enter Phase 1 and small business owners in the state’s most populous county were angered by the move. Many restaurants stocked up on food in preparation for the reopening and other businesses asked employees to return for the planned reopening. 

Multnomah County remains the only county in the state yet to enter a phase of reopening.

Today, Multnomah County officials will discuss the reopening delay and what lies ahead. The earliest Multnomah County can begin the gradual process of reopening is now Friday, June 19.

The press conference is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. KGW will live stream the press conference on the video player above, as well as on, the KGW News app and our social media channels (YouTube, Facebook and Twitter).

Last week, Brown said she made the decision because of the increase of COVID-19 cases across the state, but she offered no specifics as to what Multnomah County must do to enter Phase 1.

“We are all frustrated,” Brown said last Friday. “[But] when it comes to the health and safety of Oregonians, the buck stops here.”

RELATED: What will it take for Multnomah County to reopen? State, county officials disagree on progress

Brown’s office did mention several areas of concern that led to the statewide postponement of reopening as Oregon, including an increase in Multnomah County residents admitted to hospitals over the past two weeks. County officials said the rise in hospitalizations is small and the numbers low.

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the Oregon state health officer, said last Friday that one of the troubling signs in Multnomah County was so many new cases did not have an obvious source.

“Over 40% of the cases identified last week were not traced to a source,” Sidelinger said.

But Dr. Jennifer Vines, the county’s health director, correctly pointed out that while tracing cases is required in Phase 1 and the county is doing that, tracing cases to a source a specific percentage of the time is not required for Phase 1.

“This is a metric that the state is using. I believe it’s part of their Phase 2 criteria so it wasn’t one we were particularly focused on,” Vines said.

The county had long targeted June 12 to begin its gradual reopening. The county’s reopening plan included a specific framework prioritizing the needs of the black community, indigenous community and other communities of color, who are disproportionately impacted by the virus both nationwide and in Multnomah County.

As a reminder, under Phase 1, the following restrictions would be eased:

  • Restaurants and bars for sit-down service: Requirements include 6 feet of social distancing; a limit of groups to parties of 10 or fewer; food and drink consumption must end by 10 p.m.; and workers are required to wear masks. See more details on the requirements.
  • Barbers, salons and massage businesses: Requirements include social distancing; appointment-only; and a personal protective equipment and customer list. See more details on the requirements.
  • Gyms and fitness centers: Requirements include a maximum gathering limit; social distancing; and sanitation. See more details on the requirements.
  • In-person gatherings: Up to 25 people, no travel.

After entering Phase 1, the county will need to wait at least 21 days before it is eligible to enter Phase 2.

Twenty-nine of Oregon’s 36 counties have entered Phase 2, where they will likely stay through the fall, state health officials said.

Phase 3, which focuses on large gatherings, will not begin until a COVID-19 vaccine or reliable treatment is widely available.

WATCH: Multnomah County health director speaks about Phase 1 delay

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