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Gov. Brown extends COVID-19 state of emergency into 2021

Gov. Kate Brown extended Oregon’s COVID-19 state of emergency by 60 days Tuesday, taking the declaration through Jan. 2, 2021, according to a news release.

The declaration is the “legal underpinning” for executive orders related to phased reopenings for counties during the pandemic, and for health and safety guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, the release said.

“Extending the COVID-19 state of emergency is not something I do lightly, but we know all too well that not taking action would mean an even greater loss of life,” Brown said. “The second wave of COVID-19 has arrived in the United States, and this time it is hitting all of our communities.”

The Oregon Health Authority reported 391 new cases and nine more deaths from the disease Tuesday, increasing the state’s death toll to 664 and pushing the state case total to 42,808.

Jackson County reported 25 new cases Tuesday, raising the county total to 1,707. Of that amount, 252 are considered infectious. There have been 123 local hospitalizations and six deaths from the disease, according to county data.

Among Jackson County’s latest cases are a Southern Oregon University student athlete and one of the athletic staff, according to a university news release. Both tested positive for the illness last Friday, prompting a temporary suspension of all school athletic activities.

The staff member tested positive during the Cascade Collegiate Conference initiative, which tested 419 students from Oregon, Washington and Idaho for COVID-19. Four of the students tested positive. Sixty-three of those tested were from SOU.

“Contact tracing on the two positive cases resulted in 14-day quarantines for a small number of other student-athletes and athletic staff members,” the release said. “They can safely return to campus activities if they test negative following their quarantines.”