County petitions state for Phase 2 status

By on Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020 in Columbia Basin News Regional News

UPDATE: Umatilla County’s petition to return to Phase 2 status of Gov. Kate Brown’s COVID-19 reopening plan was turned down during a conference call with state officials this afternoon (Wednesday). Board of Commissioners Chairman John Shafer said the county was given no idea when it can move up to Phase 2.

UMATILLA COUNTY – The Umatilla County Board of Commissioners has formally asked the state to move Umatilla County up to Phase 2. When Gov. Kate Brown moved the county to the Phase 1 reopening plan on Aug. 21, she stated the county would stay at that phase for at least 21 days.

In his weekly communication to local government leaders, Commissioner George Murdock, who oversees the Umatilla County Public Health Department, wrote that county officials feel it’s time to get back to Phase 2.

“A letter of appeal regarding the desire to move to Phase 2 was submitted to state authorities on Monday afternoon as part of the backdrop for the discussion of being allowed to move to another level,” Murdock wrote. “The letter specifically asked for Friday, Sept. 4. We are hopeful, but not optimistic.”

Murdock noted that there was an increase in positive COVID-19 test results last week over the prior week with 96 cases reported Aug. 17-23 followed by 141 cases between Aug. 24-30. He pointed out that in that last week, there were 60 cases from inmates at Two Rivers Correctional Institution in Umatilla and Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton.

Board Chairman John Shafer said Tuesday evening that the state had not answered the request, but that a meeting is scheduled for today.