(Update: State confirms move back to Higher Risk category)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – As expected, a rise in cases and positive test results has sent Deschutes County back into the High Risk COVID-19 category for the next two weeks, while Crook and Jefferson counties remain in the Lower Risk category, the Oregon Health Authority confirmed Tuesday.
More information about the latest risk levels was posted by the Oregon Health Authority in this document.
Deschutes County had 270 cases in the March 21-April 3 two-week period, for a case rate of 139.9 per 100,000 people and positive test rate of 3.8%, up from 192 cases, 99.5 cases per 100,000 people and a 2.5% positive test rate the previous two weeks.
Crook County had 23 cases in the latest two-week period, for 98.1 cases per 100,000 and a positive test rate of 1.8%. Jefferson County had 19 cases and 79.7 cases per 100,000 for the period, with a positive test rate of 3.2%.
NewsChannel 21's Max Goldwasser is talking with businesses affected by the change for a story tonight, starting on Fox @ 4.
Morgan Emerson, public information officer for Deschutes County Health Services, said Monday the recent increase in cases was likely to move the county back to Higher Risk.
"On the last set of the risk numbers, we were right on the edge, and since then, we have seen cases continue to rise. So we see it's highly likely that we may move up to the high risk category again,” Emerson said.
Over the past three two-week periods, Deschutes County has seen an increase in COVID cases.
The last period reached a rate of 99.5 cases per 100,000 people. The threshold to move into High Risk is between 100 and 200.
The High Risk category means indoor dining and recreation move back to 25 percent capacity, and retail back to 50 percent.
Jennifer High, director of operations at the Athletic Club of Bend, fears this move will allow fewer people inside, but could also deter some from coming at all.
"It's definitely an obstacle, and one that we can fight with, but it is pretty detrimental, this entire situation, to our business,” High said.
Deschutes County didn't qualify for a two-week grace period by the OHA, because the county has been in the Moderate Risk category for so long (since Feb. 12).
While Deschutes County has given over 62,000 vaccine shots, Emerson said people still need to be responsible.
"We don't have herd immunity in Deschutes County, or in Oregon, or the country, so we have to continue taking precautions,” Emerson said.