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'Pause' to slow virus is a small price to pay

On Friday, Gov. Kate Brown declared a “pause” on social activities in Jackson County and four others reporting record numbers of cases of COVID-19. We urge county residents to take this for what it is: a temporary pause. It is a step back, not a draconian shutdown, despite the howls you may hear from those who continue to deny the seriousness of this pandemic.

Brown announced the two-week period of new restrictions with a warning. If the numbers of new cases do not show improvement, more severe restrictions may be necessary.

Please take this seriously. We are in this situation because too many people have let down their guard, attending family get-togethers and other social gatherings without adequate precautions. And the new cases are not confined to the young and healthy, who are most likely — but not guaranteed — to experience mild symptoms and recover.

Jackson County Public Health is now tracking nine outbreaks in long-term care facilities. That means facilities where three or more staff and/or residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Avamere Three Fountains now has a total of 54 cases (eight staff and 46 residents) and one COVID-19-related fatality.

Residents of care facilities are the most vulnerable population of all — most of them elderly and with a variety of underlying health conditions that place them at highest risk of serious illness and death. These are the ones we were supposed to be protecting.

The “pause” Brown announced on Friday prohibits visits at long-term care facilities, encourages working from home, sets new capacity limits on restaurants to 50 people including staff and limits gyms to 50 people at a time. Gathering with people outside your household is not recommended. Those who do anyway are asked to limit the total to six people.

Houses of worship are not included.

We have said this before and we will continue to say it: No one’s rights are being restricted by any of this. No one is going to come to your door and arrest you for gathering with too many people. If anything, the governor is being as lenient as possible under the circumstances, by allowing restaurants and gyms to continue to operate at all.

The pause ends the day before Thanksgiving. Please do not take this as an excuse to host 20 people for Thanksgiving dinner.

Holding rallies or protests against a perceived infringement of your right to infect your extended family, friends and neighbors, not to mention strangers you encounter at the grocery store, will not make these restrictions go away. What will: avoiding indoor gatherings, staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask when you must venture out, maintaining social distancing and washing your hands thoroughly and frequently.

Do want schools to reopen? Wear a mask.

Do you want high school sports to resume? Wear a mask.

Do you want businesses to survive and continue to operate? Wear a mask.

This is not a matter of debate. It is at most a minor inconvenience. The result is not less freedom, but more: eventually, the freedom to dine out, gather with friends and family, resume more of the activities we used to take for granted. But that cannot happen unless everyone diligently practices these simple precautions.

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