NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Elected officials call for testing, tracing, and mitigation

It’s time for anoth­er install­ment of of our spe­cial series COVID-19 Update, bring­ing you the lat­est devel­op­ments on the nov­el coro­n­avirus out­break that pub­lic health author­i­ties here and across the coun­try are work­ing to mitigate.


Gov­er­nor Inslee extend­ed the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order through May 31st, but also unveiled a four-phase plan for a grad­ual open­ing of the state.


This plan will start Phase I, begin­ning today, and there are expect­ed to be a min­i­mum of three weeks between each phase, though what will ulti­mate­ly deter­mine whether the state will advance to the next phase are five metrics.

These are COVID-19 dis­ease activ­i­ty; test­ing capac­i­ty and avail­abil­i­ty; case and con­tact inves­ti­ga­tions; risk to vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions, and health care sys­tem readi­ness. For exam­ple, if the Fed­er­al gov­ern­ment fails to pro­vide the half mil­lion test swabs and relat­ed mate­ri­als for test­ing on a reg­u­lar basis to Wash­ing­ton state, for exam­ple, there will be a delay in mov­ing for­ward to Phase II.

Gov­er­nor Inslee also remind­ed view­ers that munic­i­pal­i­ties and coun­ties can still apply stricter mea­sures than those the state has in place through the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” plan through­out this process, to meet the local sit­u­a­tion at hand.

In con­junc­tion with this four-phase plan is the COVID-19 risk assess­ment dash­board, to pro­vide a broad overview of where the state stands per the fine met­rics and explain in greater detail what each met­ric means.

As in Ore­gon, approx­i­mate­ly 1,500 per­son­nel will be hired by mid-May to main­tain dai­ly one-on-one con­tact with those who have been diag­nosed with COVID-19 and ensur­ing they don’t spread the virus further.

Ten coun­ties will be con­sid­ered, as they make up less than 3% of the pop­u­la­tion of the state, if they main­tain their extreme­ly low num­ber of cas­es of the virus and have enough hos­pi­tal capac­i­ty and per­son­al pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE) on hand, to be allowed a vari­ance to move ear­ly to Phase 2.

These coun­ties are Colum­bia, Fer­ry, Garfield, Grays Har­bor, Jef­fer­son, Kit­ti­tas, Lin­coln, Pend Oreille, Ska­ma­nia and Wahki­akum. If this move is suc­cess­ful, oth­er coun­ties will be able to request con­sid­er­a­tion to join this group.


Gov­er­nor Kate Brown has extend­ed the present State of Emer­gency order with­in Ore­gon through July 6th, but may allow spe­cif­ic coun­ties that have zero cas­es of Covid-19 to grad­u­al­ly reopen start­ing May 15th.

She has also announced a new pro­gram, “Be the Key,” with 100,000 ran­dom­ly select­ed vol­un­teers, focused on vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions, to cre­ate a bet­ter idea of where COVID-19 exists and how it affects their communities.

Those who agree to par­tic­i­pate would be tracked for up to one year.

The Ore­gon Health Author­i­ty, in con­junc­tion with “Be the Key,” also announced a series of mea­sures to fur­ther con­tain the spread of COVID-19. These are built around two strate­gies – one for test­ing and con­tact trac­ing, and one for con­tain­ment and iso­la­tion of those found to have the virus.

The first step is statewide active sur­veil­lance – that’s main­tain­ing dai­ly one-on-one con­tact with those who have been diag­nosed with COVID-19 and ensur­ing they don’t spread the virus fur­ther. Around six hun­dred vol­un­teers will be hired for this pur­pose, espe­cial­ly for those with the cul­tur­al and lin­guis­tic com­pe­tence nec­es­sary to effec­tive­ly work with at-risk groups.

The first step is expand­ing test­ing to iden­ti­fy those with, and to then stop the spread of the virus. The statewide goal is thir­ty tests per week per 10,000 Ore­go­ni­ans, and to ensure any­one with symp­toms is test­ed with­in forty-eight to sev­en­ty-two hours, though more spe­cif­ic goals exist for each of the nine regions into which the state will con­duct testing.

The sec­ond step is to iden­ti­fy and inves­ti­gate as part of a pro­gram of “broad con­tact trac­ing;” to track all those who may have been in con­tact with the per­son found to have test­ed pos­i­tive for COVID-19. The third step is to iso­late those who test pos­i­tive for the dis­ease and quar­an­tine those exposed. The fourth step is to iden­ti­fy and reduce the poten­tial spread of the virus with spe­cif­ic at-risk groups.

The hard, cold numbers

Wash­ing­ton state has had 16,136 cas­es and 846 attrib­ut­able deaths.

216,320 peo­ple have been tested.

Ore­gon has had 2,759 cas­es and 109 attrib­ut­able deaths.

63,443 peo­ple have been tested.

Ida­ho has had 2,106 cas­es and 64 attrib­ut­able deaths.

30,146 peo­ple have been tested.

British Colum­bia has had 2,224 cas­es and 117 attrib­ut­able deaths.

96,517 peo­ple have been tested.

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