City of Talent Oregon / News

COVID-19 Update: Reopening Strategy, Wildfire Preparedness & More Resources


May 1, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Our Stay Home, Save Lives efforts have served to flatten the curve. With great sacrifice, together we have prevented an estimated 70,000 cases and 1,500 hospitalizations. Now it’s time to chart a course forward. As complicated and disorienting as it was to gear up for this pandemic, moving to some kind of normalized life may prove to be even more challenging. 

Today Governor Kate Brown announced details of the state’s reopening strategy, which will employ a testing and tracing approach that enables us to understand the prevalence of the virus and to identify where it may be hiding. 

Reopening will require that testing is available for anyone showing symptoms and for residents in high-risk settings, including residential care, prisons, and shelters, and for essential workers. In addition, beginning May 11, Oregon Health & Science University will initiate Be the Key, a statewide testing of 100,000 volunteers. Participants will be randomly selected, and no one will be required to be tested. 

In addition to testing, the state plans to hire and deploy 600 workers to serve as contact tracers who identify and educate individuals with possible exposure to COVID-19. These outreach workers will be bilingual and bi-cultural, and will help individuals understand the risks of their exposure.

With testing and tracing in place, reopening may begin in some Oregon counties as soon as May 15.

To be clear, life in the first phases of reopening will still be different. Industry work groups are developing guidelines for specific sectors, including restaurants, retail, personal services and child care, that will outline operational adjustments, such as distancing requirements for employees and customers, appropriate signage, and cleaning and disinfection standards. Employees will be encouraged to continue working from home when possible, and gatherings will be limited to small groups.

Subsequent phases will allow gradually larger gatherings, increased capacity for restaurants, and reopening of facilities where personal contact is common, such as bars and gyms. Larger facilities, including theaters and sports arenas, will likely be among the last businesses to restart. 

Gradual reopening will be based on gating criteria (declining number of cases, hospital capacity, etc.) and preparedness (testing capacity, plans for tracing and isolating positive individuals, etc.) that measure our health care system's capacity to care for new and predicted COVID-19 patients. It will not signal that the virus has disappeared. Individuals with underlying health conditions or who are otherwise at risk should continue to minimize exposure to public places and gatherings.

One thing is for sure: none of us wants to repeat this stay at home experience. A path forward that is cautious, incremental, and data-driven will get us back to regular life with minimal detours or distractions along the way.

And, in the meantime, we need to prepare for fire season and maintain services that will see our community through this crisis. I share more about those topics below.


Representative Pam Marsh

State Representative
Oregon House District 5 - Southern Jackson County