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  • Writer's pictureLisa Reynolds, MD

Oregon Public Health Coalition: Principles and Measures

Oregon Public Health Coalition: Principles and Measures Guiding Principles

  1. Government’s responsibility is the health and welfare of the public.

  2. A healthy public is required to have a healthy economy.

  3. The public must have access to care to stay healthy.

  4. Jobs and economic security must be protected for those impacted by COVID19 infection.

Statement of support: We support the Governor continuing to implement and enforce her plans for “Building a Safe and Strong Oregon,” and we call for stronger action on key measures.

Measures to protect the public’s health: Additionally, we commit to protecting the public’s health through transparent and accountable support for and funding of the following with an equity-focused lens, guided by our principles as above:

  1. Universal Masking

  2. Comprehensive Testing

  3. Robust Contact Tracing and Notification

  4. Quarantine Relief

  5. Local PPE capacity-building to stabilize our supply chain

1. Universal Masking: Data are mounting that cities/counties/states who have implemented and enforced mandatory masking policies are controlling the spread of COVID-19 much more effectively than those who have not (Lancet 6.1.2020; Health Affairs 6.16.2020). To maintain a healthy public and economy, we must protect our workers and our community and this requires universal masking. We support the Governor’s call for universal masking in indoor public spaces and outdoors and additionally ask that Oregon expand masking to include all workplaces where social distancing is not possible. Reports of workplace outbreaks (including the Oregon Employment Division) underscore the need to make this mandatory.

Furthermore, the state needs to support this mandate with a robust public health campaign as well as appropriate enforcement.

Valid “medical exceptions” for masking are extremely few in number and if people have such limitations, they should likely be sheltering in place during the pandemic.

Concerns regarding our Black and Brown neighbors being targeted for wearing a mask will drop significantly if universal masking is the norm.

2. Comprehensive Testing: Testing capacity, affordability and availability is inadequate at this time and has been since the beginning of the pandemic. We need testing supplies and machines, and workflows to implement widespread testing. OHA must clarify its policy to make clear that priority groups, including BIPOC, people living in congregate settings, workers in settings where there have been outbreaks such as food processors and farms, and people with positive contact, must receive testing on demand, even when asymptomatic. We need to proactively reach out to our communities of color who are being disproportionately impacted by COVID 19 with culturally-competent, accessible and affordable testing options.Testing capacity must include surveillance testing. Our current testing capacity is insufficient to reopen our schools and economy.

3. Tracing and Notification: Contact tracing is core to public health and must be driven by local, culturally-competent, community-based organizations (CBOs). The state needs to cascade resources and best-practices to counties and allow local governments to partner with CBOs expeditiously and robustly to achieve at least the numbers outlined in Governor Brown’s plan. Public health workers must identify and notify individuals who test positive for COVID-19, and then trace and notify individuals’ contacts to prevent further transmission of the virus. Individuals who test positive must isolate and contacts of these individuals must quarantine. To do this, there must be sufficient capacity for people to be contacted and educated in a culturally-competent and responsive way, including in their own language.

4. Isolation and Quarantine Relief: When an Oregonian develops signs or symptoms of COVID-19 infection, and/or have tested positive for COVID-19, they need fourteen days of paid isolation leave. Furthermore, contacts of COVID-19 patients need paid quarantine leave. This is crucial to stop the spread of COVID-19 and is necessary for a path to full economic reopening. When an Oregonian is cleared to return to work, they need to know their job is secure. In addition, individuals must be supported sufficiently to be successful in their efforts to isolate and quarantine as needed, including support with food, diapers, rent, and other essentials people need to survive while they are doing the right thing for the public’s health.

5. Local Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) capacity-building to stabilize our supply chain: Oregon is short on the PPE that keeps all Oregonians safe, especially front line workers and patients. The Federal Government is not able or willing to ensure stable access to PPE or COVID tests. Oregon must create sustainable, local supply chains through state-led incentives and entrepreneurial support become self-sufficient in regards to PPE. Oregon optimally will develop state-wide standards for PPE and be able to provide PPE appropriate for the community and for patient care.

We commit to leading this effort with courage and compassion, putting our most vulnerable Oregonians at the center of our policies. We shall be most successful in protecting the health of all if our efforts prioritize those most at risk.

Coalition Members

Oregon Nurses Association (ONA)

SEIU (Service Employees International Union)

PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste)

AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations)

AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees)

Oregon Law Center.

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This website is written by Lisa Reynolds, MD, Portland, Oregon Pediatrician on the front lines of the coronavirus epidemic. Mom and daughter. Candidate for Oregon HD36.

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