In two weeks, Columbia County businesses and residents may face new stricter health and safety restrictions under the state's pandemic precautions classifications.
The county's sharply rising COVID-19 cases over the past several days have triggered a two-week caution period imposed by state health officials.
If the number of COVID-19 cases do not decline with that period, Columbia County will be classified as a Extreme High risk county.
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.
Governor Kate Brown announced Tuesday afternoon, April 6, updates to county risk levels under the state's public health framework to reduce transmission and protect Oregonians from COVID-19. 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 through April 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. A complete list of counties and their associated risk levels is available here.
“We are at a critical moment in this pandemic as we face more contagious variants of COVID-19 taking hold in our communities,” said Governor Brown. “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.”
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. 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 trigger has not been met: Josephine, Klamath, and Tillamook.
Four counties enter two-week caution period
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.