By SARA CLINE
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Following a record-breaking day of COVID-19 cases in Oregon, officials on Friday announced new restrictions that will be implemented in at least five of the state’s counties as part of a two-week pause on social activities.
The updated safety measures, which begin Nov. 11, include halting visitations to long-term care facilities, reducing the capacity of indoor dining at restaurants to 50 people, encouraging all business to mandate work from home and urging Oregonians not to gather with people who do not live in their household, but if they do to limit it to six people.
“Let me be clear, we cannot allow this disease to continue to spread so rapidly in our communities. Lives are at stake,” Gov. Kate Brown said.
Currently, statewide safety measures in Oregon include banning indoor get-togethers of more than 10 people, the closure of restaurants and bars by 10 p.m., a capacity limit for restaurants and gyms set at 100 people inside and mask requirements for people five years or older in indoor public spaces, universities, office spaces and outdoor areas where physical distancing can not be maintained.
Under the updated measures, indoor dining at restaurants along with other indoor activity facilities such as gyms, fitness organizations, bowling alleys, ice rinks, indoor sports, pools and museums will all be reduced to a 50 person capacity.
Get-togethers with people should also be limited to six people, the health authority said. If people have multiple get-togethers, which is discouraged, it should be the same social circle of six people.
These pause measures will be in effect through Nov. 25, for Malheur, Marion, Multnomah, Jackson and Umatilla counties.
“This is a wake-up call,” Brown said. “I do not want to have to take further actions to stop the spread of COVID-19 because I know it will have a devastating impact on our businesses both large and small.”
Five additional counties––Washington, Baker, Union, Clackamas and Linn––are close to the COVID-19 thresholds that would necessitate adding them to the two-week pause. The Oregon Health Authority will determine Monday if any of these counties will be added.
The threshold for counties being added to the two-week pause is counties with a case rate above 200 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period, or more than 60 cases over a two-week period for counties with less than 30,000 people.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 805 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Thursday, breaking the state’s previous daily record of 600. In addition, the most recent percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in the state was 8.4%.
On Friday the health authority reported 770 new cases, increasing the number of cases in the state since the start of the pandemic to 48,608. The death toll is 716.
Officials say that the “unprecedented” numbers suggest that Oregonians are circulating more in their communities, letting their guard down and attending more indoor social gatherings.
There are 204 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Oregon, a record number according to the Oregon Health Authority’s dashboard.
The previous record, outside the month of November, was 168 patients in July.