(Update: adding video, comments from affected businesses)
New hospitalization factor could let some counties avoid 'Extreme Risk'
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — As expected, Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday afternoon that Deschutes County will be moving back into High Risk on Friday. That means restaurants will once again have to limit capacity to 25% or 50 people for indoor dining, whichever is smaller.
"…and due to COVID-19, we are now at half capacity."
That’s the Victorian Cafe's answering machine, which will need to change after Gov. Brown’s announcement.
The Oregon Health Authority says counties with 100-200 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people are considered High Risk. In the most recent two-week time period, from March 21 through April 3, Deschutes County reported 139.9 cases per 100,000 people.
Now several restaurants, which were starting to get back on their feet, will have to take a step backward.
"It's just sad,” said Jason Camberg, owner of The Point Pub & Grill in downtown Bend. “It really hurts us. I mean, that occupancy going back down to 25% from 50% is a huge difference for us trying to move forward and stay in business."
Jarryd Hanson, manager of the Left Coast Burger Company in northern Bend, told NewsChannel 21 the change will not have too big of an impact on his fairly new restaurant. He said the dining room setup only supports 25% capacity anyway.
However, he empathizes with other people in the service industry, especially bars.
"Not being able to have live music, or entertainment of any kind, having everything 25% really makes it a struggle,” Hanson said.
The Tower Theatre in downtown Bend was excited to have people back indoors this weekend for its first live public performance since early November.
Executive Director Ray Solley said that despite Tuesday’s announcement, the show must go on.
In a statement, he told NewsChannel 21, "The staff, producers of cocktail cabaret and i are working to add performances this weekend so that we only have 30 audience members at each show. We'd much rather find a way to creatively stage these local performers rather than postpone or cancel them altogether. Keeping everyone safe and healthy will be the deciding factor.”
Crook and Jefferson counties remain at Lower Risk.
Here's the news release issued by Gov. Kate Brown:
Gov. Kate Brown announced updates Tuesday to county risk levels under the state's public health framework to reduce transmission and protect Oregonians from COVID-19. Deschutes County returns to High Risk, while Crook and Jefferson counties hold at Lower Risk.
The framework uses four different risk levels for counties based on COVID-19 spread — Extreme Risk, High Risk, Moderate Risk, and Lower Risk — and assigns health and safety measures for each level.
Effective April 9-22, 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.
“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. “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.”
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.
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, the governor said.
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 hospitalization trigger has not been met: Josephine, Klamath, and Tillamook.
Four counties enter two-week caution period
The two-week caution period applies to counties facing backward movement. 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 period to re-focus efforts to drive back down creeping case numbers and give local businesses additional certainty on their plans for operating.
This week, the caution period applies to five counties:
- Baker County qualifies for Extreme Risk but is given a two-week caution period at Lower Risk because it moved down from Moderate Risk in the last movement period.
- Columbia County qualifies for Extreme Risk but is given a two-week caution period at Moderate Risk because it moved down from High Risk in the last movement period.
- Lane County qualifies for Moderate Risk but is given a two-week caution period at Lower Risk because it moved down from Moderate Risk in the last movement period.
- Polk County qualifies for High Risk but is given a two-week caution period at Moderate Risk because it moved down from High Risk in the last movement period.
- Yamhill County qualifies for Moderate Risk but is given a two-week caution period at Lower Risk because it moved down from Moderate Risk in the last movement period.
The Oregon Health Authority will examine and publish county data weekly. County risk levels will be reassigned every two weeks. The first week's data will provide a "warning week" to prepare counties for potential risk level changes. The next assignment of risk levels will be announced April 20 and take effect April 23.
Updates to Warning Week data and county risk levels will be posted to coronavirus.oregon.gov.