Oregon, Utah Pause Reopenings as Coronavirus Cases Spike

Two states are pausing their reopening processes as coronavirus cases spike within their borders, the governors of Oregon and Utah announced Thursday.

New cases of the virus in Oregon hit their highest level ever at 178 on Thursday. The state has seen more than 5,200 cases of the coronavirus and 171 deaths since the outbreak hit the state.

Meanwhile, Utah hit a high of 556 new cases late last week, adding to the more than 13,000 cases and 131 deaths since the start of the outbreak.

“This is essentially a statewide ‘yellow light’” Oregon’s Democratic Governor Kate Brown said in a Thursday evening statement, although she added that the pause will last only one week before officials consider continuing Oregon’s phased reopening.

“I will work with doctors and public health experts to determine whether to lift this pause or extend it or make other adjustments,” Brown said.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, said his state will also pause its reopening as the spike in cases is investigated.

“I don’t want to go forward and then take a step backward,” Herbert said.

He emphasized that he has no intention of imposing additional restrictions on businesses or shutting down the state’s economy further.

“We’ve not closed down the economy, and consequently our economy is much better off today than any other state in America,” Herbert noted.

Both states are operating on a county-by-county basis for reopening their economies in phases. In Utah, Salt Lake City remains in the “orange” phase, above the red phase. The state’s other counties have all entered the next “yellow” phase except for Kane County, which the governor approved to enter the “green” phase, the one with the least restrictions, on Friday.

Oregon has implemented a three-phase reopening plan, with all counties now in phase one except for Multnomah County, the state’s largest county, whose application to reopen was rejected by the governor after the county was unable to show that coronavirus cases had declined over the past week.

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