Gov. Kate Brown has announced that she will be lifting Oregon’s COVID-19 emergency declaration, effective March 19th. COVID-19 hospitalizations and case numbers continue to drop rapidly across Oregon as the Omicron variant recedes.
“Over the past six months, as Oregon weathered our worst surges of the pandemic, I’m proud of the way Oregonians have worked together to keep each other safe,” said Brown. “Lifting Oregon’s COVID-19 emergency declaration today does not mean that the pandemic is over, or that COVID-19 is no longer a significant concern. But, as we have shown through the Delta and Omicron surges, as we learn to live with this virus, and with so many Oregonians protected by safe and effective vaccines, we can now protect ourselves, our friends, and our families without invoking the extraordinary emergency authorities that were necessary at the beginning of the pandemic.
“COVID-19 is still present in Oregon, and we must remain vigilant. We must continue to get vaccinated and boosted, wear masks when necessary, and stay home when sick. That is the only way we can achieve our shared goals of saving lives and keeping our schools, businesses, and communities open.”
Most of the governor’s executive orders regarding COVID-19 were rescinded on June 30, 2021. In responding to the subsequent Delta and Omicron surges of COVID-19, the Governor for the most part did not use her executive authority to issue new emergency orders. She did take other steps, such as activating the Oregon National Guard to help support hospital workers, and coordinating with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to bring skilled healthcare workers to Oregon to support hospital and long-term care facility staff.
Since June 30, the emergency declaration has provided the state with flexibility and resources for the state’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, including allowing for the use of SERV-OR volunteer medical providers in hospitals, providing flexibility around professional health licensing, and ensuring Oregon could access all available federal disaster relief funds available, such as enhanced SNAP benefits.
Safety requirements in place today regarding masks, vaccinations for K-12 educators and staff, and vaccinations for healthcare workers do not rely on the state of emergency declaration––instead, they are covered by state or federal agency administrative rules issued under existing non-emergency state or federal authority.