Why are we reopening?
Benton County applied for reopening on Monday May 11th, 2020 based on the gating criteria and prerequisites outlined by Oregon Health Authority and the Governor’s Office. Benton County was notified that they have been approved to open on Friday May 15th, 2020.
The decision to apply for reopening was based on a complex perspective of public health impacts on the community. As directed by public health professionals, the impacts related to lower socioeconomic status is one of the most impactful predictors of health outcomes. These predictors include a higher morbidity and mortality rate to chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, respiratory illness, etc.) which generally present generationally.
In addition to chronic disease, mental health impacts from prolonged isolation, abuse/domestic violence, and other factors such as increased stress from financial strains (loss of job, increased cost of essential items, etc.) exacerbate adverse health outcomes. Furthermore, individuals with lower socio-economic status have greatly reduced access to health care especially in areas where healthcare services are limited.
The greatest challenge in reopening is the complicated balance of the immediate physical health of the community and economic health of our community. Moving on to phase one reopening is about having appropriate public health mitigation measures in place to protect the community, while relying on businesses and community members to take the appropriate precautions to keep employees and members of the public safe.
Community centers, recreation centers, libraries, schools, childcare, large gyms and fitness centers, and public pools are still awaiting additional guidance from the state.
The focus of phase one is less about specific business types and more about the ability to contact trace, test, and slowly implement services with social distancing and hygiene protocol in place while limiting groups over 25 people.
We received word late Thursday, May 13, 2020, that our application was approved for reopening. We are encouraging businesses to open when they are ready and to take the time necessary to implement all the sector guidelines and best practices to keep employees and community members safe.
We want to remain open and remain safe. Thank you for your patience and cooperation.