Central Oregon at ‘extreme risk’ level; COVID restrictions to remain in place

All of Central Oregon has been put in the “Extreme Risk” category for COVID spread and will see continued restrictions when the statewide freeze is lifted on Wednesday.

Gov. Kate Brown and the OHA on Tuesday issued an update to the county risk levels as COVID cases continue to skyrocket across the state.

The framework uses four different risk levels for counties based on COVID-19 spread—Extreme Risk, High Risk, Moderate Risk, and Lower Risk—and assigns health and safety measures for each level.

(A complete list of counties and their associated risk levels is available here.)

Brown announced 25 counties will be in the Extreme Risk level, five counties will be High Risk, two counties will be Moderate Risk, and four counties will be Lower Risk.

Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties are all at the Extreme Risk level and the continued restrictions will remain in place until at least Dec. 17th.

That means restaurants and bars are restricted to take-out only or outdoor dining for 50 people max, gyms must remain closed and grocery stores must operate at 50% capacity.

“Counties that are facing extreme risk of virus spread will need to continue with strict health and safety measures, similar to the Two-Week Freeze,” Brown said in a statement. “I want to stress that there is no zero-risk category. Until COVID-19 vaccines are widely available and we have high participation, health and safety precautions will remain in place so that schools, businesses, and communities can reopen—and stay open.”

The news shouldn’t be a surprise to Central Oregonians.

The governor announced last week that many Oregon counties would see continued restrictions once the freeze ended, and the COVID situation has only worsened here.

Deschutes County last week reported a record 459 new cases, a 75% increase from the week before.

Crook County cases jumped from 18 to week of Nov. 15-21 to 37 cases last week.

Jefferson County added 49 cases last week.

Statewide, the OHA reported a record 24 deaths on Tuesday while adding 1,233 new cases.

Overall the state has reported 76,654 COVID cases and 936 deaths.

Bend Parks and Rec on Tuesday issued a statement that the new safety framework would continue to impact several programs and facilities.

The facilities and programs currently closed or canceled are:

  • Juniper Swim & Fitness Center remains closed for all fitness and swim activities. Swim lessons and novice swim team to be cancelled for the remainder of the current session (through Dec. 19).
  • The Bend Senior Center, District Office and Park Services have remained closed to the public since March and this will continue.
  • Indoor sport and recreation programs are cancelled through Dec. 19, the remainder of the current session. January programs currently in registration will continue to be open for online registration at this time.

Programs and facilities remaining open:

  • The Pavilion remains open for limited programming not to exceed 50-person capacity. Currently scheduled programs including learn to skate, learn to play, hockey skills and drills, specialized ice times and curling league will continue with some modifications.  Open public skate will not be available.
  • The Team Up childcare program and child care programs at the Art Station are offered as scheduled. These programs are currently permitted and provide essential childcare services for working families.
  • Parks, playgrounds and trails remain open. Users are strongly encouraged to wear face covering at all times, maintain 6 ft. distancing, and sanitize hands often. Also keep group size small, with gatherings of no more than 6 people from no more than 2 households.
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