Umatilla Co. returns to baseline stay home status, Morrow Co. moved back to Phase 1

Umtailla County has been ordered back to “Baseline Stay Home” status and Morrow County has been moved back to Phase 1 due to an alarming rise of COVID cases in the northeast part of the state, Gov. Kate Brown announced Thursday.

“After weeks of trying other measures to get the disease under control, our only option is to temporarily close certain businesses and other community amenities,” Brown said. “I am hopeful that these measures will help the community control the spread of COVID-19 quickly.”

Umtailla County has more COVID cases per capita than any county in Oregon (234/10,000); its test positivity rate is 23%  and over the last two weeks has averaged 51 new cases a day.

The county has reported 1,902 cases and 22 deaths.

COVID-19 spread in the county progressed from early outbreaks linked to social and family gatherings to outbreaks in large food processing facilities, as well as other agricultural settings, workplaces, nursing homes, correctional facilities, and among health care providers, Brown said.

Morrow County has a weekly test positivity rate of 30% and has reported seven new cases a day over the last two weeks; with more than half considered “sporadic” and cannot be traced back to a known source.

It’s reported 271 cases and two deaths.

The outbreak in Morrow County first began with social gatherings but that then led to cases linked to large food processing facilities and agricultural facilities.

Both counties had been placed on the state’s Watch List on July 3 and received additional support from state public health officials.

The changes in county reopening status will be in effect for 21 days.

In Baseline Stay Home status, the following measures apply:

  • All individuals should minimize all non-essential travel and stay at their home or place of residence as much as possible.
  • All businesses and non-profits must implement work-from-home or telework policies for employees to the maximum extent possible.
  • Civic, cultural, and faith-based gatherings are limited to 25 people.
  • All indoor and outdoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people
  • Grocery stores and retail, museums, pharmacies, banks and credit unions, and gas stations remain open.
  • Restaurants must move to take-out or delivery only.
  • Gyms, malls, venues, indoor and outdoor entertainment facilities, and personal services businesses must close.
  • Recreational and youth sports are no longer permitted.
  • Pools, spas, sports courts, and playgrounds must close.

In Phase 1, recreational and youth sports, venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, and pools remain closed. Non-essential local travel is allowed.

Personal services businesses are allowed to operate with health and safety measures in place.

Restaurants and bars are open for dine-in service until 10 pm with health and safety measures in place. Indoor social gatherings remain capped at 10 people with physical distancing, with other gatherings limited to 50 indoors, 50 outdoors.

This means that indoor gatherings, including faith-based, civic and cultural gatherings are limited to 50 indoors and 50 outdoors. Complete Phase 1 guidance is available here. And all statewide gatherings guidance is available here.

“If we do not act immediately, we could see the virus spread even more rapidly, infecting and killing more community members,” Brown said. “I know that this is difficult news for business owners and working families in the region.”

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