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Columbia County Public Health is issuing an advisory concerning the rising COVID-19 cases.

Rise in Cases

State and local health officials report that frequent hand washing, social distancing and wearing face coverings are key elements in helping slow the pandemic.

Columbia County has linked several COVID-19 cases to recent gatherings and activities in the north county. If this trend continues, it could shift Columbia County back into the High Risk Category and lead to stricter capacity restrictions and gathering limits, according to Columbia County Public Health.

Columbia County Public Health Director Michael Paul cautions that the rise in COVID-19 cases is concerning and the public needs to remain vigilant by wearing face coverings, practice social distancing and frequently washing hands so that the county’s risk classification does not increase. Columbia County moved from High Risk to Moderate Risk last week.

The lower classification means less public restrictions.

In a release issued Thursday evening, April 1, public health states that residents should be advised cases are also trending up across the state. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) COVID-19 Weekly Report, released on Thursday, April 1, reported 2,456 new daily cases of COVID-19 during the week of Monday, March 22 through Sunday, March 28. That represents a 28% increase from the previous week.

"Given the rise in new cases, Columbia County Public Health would like to remind our communities that it is important for us to continue to pull together and take the necessary precautionary measures that will help us prevent additional outbreaks and further rise in cases," the release states. "Increased local spread not only endangers our vulnerable citizens, it disrupts businesses and schools."

According to Columbia County Public Health, it is important to continue to follow the recommendations of limiting the amount of people who gather socially in one place.

In counties classified as Moderate Risk, indoor social and at-home gatherings should be limited to a maximum of eight people from no more than two households. Outdoor social and at-home gatherings should be limited to a maximum of ten people, according to county and stare health and safety guidelines.

"Even for those who are already vaccinated, it is still important to follow these recommendations while in public or at work," the public health releases states.

Caution period

The state has established a two-week caution period that applies to counties facing backward movement. Counties that reduced their COVID-19 spread enough to move down in risk levels in the previous two-week period, but see their numbers go back up in the next two-week period, will be given a two-week caution period to bring COVID-19 case rates back down again.

If that fails, the counties will be re-classified, which means additional public restrictions to lover the COVID cases count.

Resources

For more information on how to protect yourself and others when you’ve been vaccinated, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html

In addition to setting risk levels based on recent case counts and test positivity, residents can stay informed by reviewing the OHA’s weekly outbreak report at: https://www.oregon.gov/oha/covid19/Documents/DataReports/Weekly-Outbreak-COVID-19-Report.pdf

Vaccination information

Vaccinations are available at most WalMart, Safeway, and other such retail locations as well as selected medical outlets, including the Legacy Medical Group in St. Helens and the OHSU Clinic in Scappoose. Appointments are necessary. To learn about appointment details and find a location near you, visit the Oregon Health Authority website.

For Columbia County residents that cannot seek vaccinations, the county is operating an in-home vaccination program. Read about this option attached. For more information, call Columbia County Public Health, at 503-397-7247.

Follow daily COVID-19 pandemic updates here online with in-depth reports in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.

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