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Oregon, Utah pause reopening amid coronavirus spikes

Governors in Oregon and Utah are hitting pause on reopening their states amid new spikes in coronavirus infections.

Oregon reported 178 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, an all-time high for the state, while Utah confirmed a new high of 556 new cases last Friday. 

Both states were in the process of phased reopening plans but will not move forward while they investigate the increases. 

"This is essentially a statewide ‘yellow light.’ It is time to press pause for one week before any further reopening,” Oregon Gov. Kate BrownKate BrownOvernight Health Care: Biden unveils vaccine plan with focus on mass inoculations | Worldwide coronavirus deaths pass 2 million | CDC: New variant could be dominant US strain by March Governors say no additional vaccine doses coming, despite Trump admin promise At least 6 GOP legislators took part in Trump-inspired protests MORE (D) said in a statement Thursday evening. 

“I will work with doctors and public health experts to determine whether to lift this pause or extend it or make other adjustments,” she added. 

Oregon has confirmed more than 5,200 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, including 171 deaths. 

Most of the state’s counties had proceeded to phase one or two of lifting restrictions meant to curb the virus’s spread, which allowed limited reopenings of restaurants, bars, personal services, gyms and malls. 

Multnomah County, which holds Oregon’s most-populated city, Portland, is the only county that had not moved to phase one, and won’t be able to during the “pause” period. 

In Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert (R) said during a Thursday night press conference most of the state would remain in the “yellow” phase of the reopening plan for the time being, which allows all businesses to open, including for in-door dining services. 

While those measures are generally less restrictive than what other states have done to slow the spread of COVID-19, Herbert pointed out, he added Utah needs to pause further reopening efforts as it investigates the rise in new cases. 

Most of the state had already moved past the red and orange phases of reopenings, which had more restrictive measures in place. The state has confirmed more than 13,000 cases since the pandemic began, including 131 deaths.

“I don’t want to go forward and then take a step backward,” Herbert said. 

Governors in other states seeing increases in COVID-19 cases — including Florida and Arizona — have indicated they will continue with their reopening efforts.