Deschutes County on Friday will officially return to “High Risk” for COVID transmission after two weeks of climbing cases, according to Gov. Kate Brown.
“We are at a critical moment in this pandemic as we face more contagious variants of COVID-19 taking hold in our communities,” Brown said in a statement. “Now more than ever it’s imperative that we all continue wearing masks, maintain physical distance, stay home when sick, and get the vaccine when it’s available to you.”
The downgrade for Deschutes County will force restaurants, bars, and other businesses to reduce capacity once again after being open to 50% capacity since mid-March.
Under the tighter restrictions, indoor dining is available with a maximum capacity of 25% or 50 people; gyms can be at 25% capacity with a max of 50 people (whichever is smaller) and outdoor recreation facilities can open with a max capacity of 75.
Morgan Emerson with Deschutes County Public Health says it’s too soon to tell if spring break had an impact on the recent spike.
“We have seen cases rising over the past few weeks from travel related exposures,” Emerson said. “Social gatherings, close contacts, and outbreaks as well.”
Effective April 9 through April 22, there will be 14 counties in the High Risk level, six at Moderate Risk, and 16 at Lower Risk.
As case counts and hospitalizations increase and counties qualify for higher risk levels, restrictions on businesses and activities will resume.
A complete list of counties and their associated risk levels is available here.
Deschutes County reported 151 new COVID cases last week, up from 132 cases the previous week.
The back-to-back spikes followed nine weeks of declining or steady numbers.
Already this week (Sun-Tue) the county has reported 80 cases.
Counties that reduced their COVID-19 spread enough to move down in risk level in the previous two-week period, but see their numbers go back up in the next two-week period, are given a two-week caution or grace period.
This gives those counties time to re-focus efforts to drive back down creeping case numbers and give local businesses additional certainty on their plans for operating, according to the governor’s office.
Deschutes County did not qualify for the caution period because the COVID cases didn’t immediately spike after it moved to “Moderate Risk” on March 11th.
Overall, the county has reported 6,470 total COVID cases and 70 deaths.
Currently, there are 845 active cases in Deschutes County; 5,555 patients have recovered.
The state’s county-by-county vaccination table is unavailable, but statewide more than 2 million vaccination doses have been administered.
New statewide metric added for determining Extreme Risk level
COVID-19 hospitalizations are a key indicator of severe illness in Oregon communities.
As vaccine distribution increases, case counts and percent positivity will not be adequate indicators on their own for measuring the threat COVID-19 poses to public health. This week, Oregon is adding a statewide hospitalization metric for moving to Extreme Risk.
Beginning this week, for counties to move to (or remain in) Extreme Risk, they must meet the county metrics for case rates and percent positivity, plus a new statewide metric: COVID-19 positive patients occupying 300 hospital beds or more, and a 15% increase in the seven-day average over the past week. Counties that meet the criteria for Extreme Risk but for the statewide trigger will be assigned to High Risk.
This week there are three counties that qualify for Extreme Risk based on their county metrics, but are assigned High Risk because the statewide trigger has not been met: Josephine, Klamath, and Tillamook.