Data Scientist: Governor Kate Brown’s Decision to Close Restaurants Will Save Lives
That’s the number of lives that Peter Graven, Oregon Health & Science University’s top data scientist, said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown as he closed restaurants and bars indoors on April 30. .
More than 700 hospitalizations for COVID-19 will also be avoided, Graven said at a press conference with Brown on Friday.
“As your governor, I have chosen to save lives,” said Brown.
That number depends on Oregonians heeding the warning from health experts and a Democratic governor that Oregon is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases and is again in a high-risk scenario. . It’s not certain that will happen: hotel lobbyists and elected officials, many of whom are Republicans, are coordinating opposition to the new restrictions.
COVID cases in Oregon are increasing faster than in any other state in the country. Over the past two weeks, Oregon cases have increased by 31%, a New York Times analysis shows. Oregon now has the 13th highest number of cases in the past two weeks, after the state during much of the pandemic had the lowest spread of the virus.
“We pushed the virus back into the fall by scaling back our activities,” Graven said at the press conference. “And because of that, we had one of the lowest case numbers in the country. We already know this policy works when Oregonians think about it. It will make all the difference. “
Graven says indoor activities when you can’t wear a mask are still the riskiest.
For weeks, Brown has been reluctant to deal with the growing cases. She changed an existing framework several times to avoid a crackdown on bars and restaurants, even choosing not to close any county until the state had 300 hospitalizations related to COVID-19. It was a threshold the state was not expected to reach just a few weeks ago.
But even though she made a decision backed by leading experts, Brown faces a political revolt – a clear indication of just how unpopular her decision is.
As KGW first reported, the restaurant industry and county officials jointly signed a letter opposing the closures and calling on the governor to cede power to the counties.
“The closure of our restaurants and the further deprivation of Oregonians of their right to take calculated community engagement risks when the virus continues to spread elsewhere will not result in success,” said the letter, jointly signed by, among others. , Washington County President Kathryn Harrington and Clackamas. County Chairman Tootie Smith, along with the four other County Commissioners in each of Portland’s suburban counties. “We can reverse the scenario by removing state-imposed trade restrictions on our communities while allowing our county health departments to meet high expectations for ongoing health and safety measures, as recommended. [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. “
The letter also says restaurants in Oregon have had good results when it comes to following health advice. “It is no coincidence that Oregon has never experienced a large-scale event related to our hotel industry.”
The letter fails to mention that 10 restaurants and bars are on the state’s list of active workplace outbreaks.