Deschutes County to Move Out of Extreme Risk | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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Deschutes County to Move Out of Extreme Risk 

10 counties move to a lower-risk category from Extreme; Crook and Jefferson counties remain in Extreme risk

Ten of Oregon's counties—including Deschutes County and those in the Portland metro area—will move into a lower-risk COVID risk category starting Feb. 12, Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday. Deschutes County will move to High Risk, which allows restaurants to open at 25% capacity indoors, among other relaxed restrictions. Under Extreme Risk, only outdoor dining was allowed, along with other restrictions on indoor business activity. 
The state's public health framework puts counties in one of four categories, based on case counts and test-positivity rates, including Extreme Risk, High Risk, Moderate Risk and Lower Risk. Starting Feb. 12, 14 counties will remain in Extreme Risk, which prohibits indoor dining and places other tight restrictions on businesses and activities. Eleven counties will be at High Risk starting Feb. 12, with three at Moderate Risk and eight at Lower Risk. 
click image PIXY.ORG

Counties moving from Extreme to High risk include Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Deschutes, Hood River, Klamath, Linn, Multnomah and Washington counties, with Morrow County moving from Extreme to Moderate Risk. Among the counties remaining in Extreme Risk are Central Oregon's less-populated counties, Crook and Jefferson.

“Thanks to Oregonians who have stepped up and made smart choices, we have made incredible progress in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives in Oregon," Brown said in a release Tuesday. "This week we will see 10 counties move out of Extreme Risk, including the Portland tri-county area, for the first time since November. This is welcome news, as we'll start to see more businesses open up and Oregonians being able to get out a bit more.

click image Cases in Oregon have been falling sharply in recent weeks, allowing more counties to begin relaxing restrictions. - OREGON HEALTH AUTHORITY
  • Oregon Health Authority
  • Cases in Oregon have been falling sharply in recent weeks, allowing more counties to begin relaxing restrictions.
"It’s also incredibly important that we continue to remain vigilant and protect our neighbors and loved ones as we face virulent new strains of COVID-19. This means continuing to wear masks, keep our physical distance, and avoid indoor gatherings. If we want to keep businesses open, reopen schools for in-person instruction, and stay safe, we must keep up our guard. Until vaccines are more widely available, case counts could go back up if we don't keep following safety measures."

Following Tuesday's announcement, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, which has been a critic of Brown's strict closure restrictions, released a statement.

“Today’s announcement represents a significant step in the right direction,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO of ORLA. “It’s our job to make sure the Governor’s Office and Oregon’s Legislators understand what we think will happen next because of today’s news. Top on the list are the challenges facing small businesses attempting to manage two weeks of operational certainty at a time which includes finding workers who are trying to pay monthly bills. And we must acknowledge the 14 counties with restaurant operations still trying to survive in the winter with no indoor dining.”

According to ORLA, opening and closing restaurant operations has been identified as the biggest challenge facing the industry. The biggest headaches, ORLA stated, have centered around scheduling workers and determining how much food each restaurant would need in the midst of changing guidelines.

Dropping case numbers

Case numbers in the state have been dropping significantly in recent weeks. In Deschutes County, Tuesday’s daily new case count was a total of five. Compare that to the dozens of new daily cases in the county reported throughout December and January, and it’s clear that the advent of the COVID-19 vaccines is having an effect. For example, January 10’s daily case count was 51; December 10’s daily case count was 47.

As of Feb. 8, over 766,000 older adults became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine of a four-week period, starting with those 80 and over. Deschutes County was initially ahead of the state’s timeline, allowing those 75 and over to start getting vaccinations in late January—but as of now, those over 80 are again being prioritized. The Oregon Health Authority allocated 1,200 more first-dose vaccines for Deschutes County for the week, beginning February 8, with those over 80 getting scheduled.

“This week, first-dose vaccine appointments will be scheduled through primary care clinics that received allotments of first dose vaccine,” Deschutes County officials announced February 9. “Primary care clinics receiving vaccine will contact patients to schedule appointments. Some St. Charles patients and community members who are receiving second doses of the vaccine will be scheduled to receive their dose at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center.

“Pending availability, people age 80 and older who have completed the Central Oregon Vaccination Interest Form at may be contacted to schedule an appointment. Those in Phase 1a and Phase 1b, Group 1 who have not yet received a first dose may also be scheduled at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center.”

More information on what's allowed under each risk level is available at the Oregon Health Authority's Guidance page

This story may be updated.

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. While the pandemic reduced "hobbies" to "aspirations," you can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis. (Progress: slow.)
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