As of today, April 23, Columbia County is back as a High Risk county under the state's pandemic health and safety classifications.

Columbia County's COVID Cases

Columbia County's rising COVID cases could move the county back to Extreme Risk. Lowering hospitalizations kept that from happening this week.

The county had moved to moderate two weeks ago, but due to a sharp jump in COVID-19 cases, the risk level has heighten, according to state health officials.

The new classification means additional health and safety restrictions.

If cases in the county continue to trend higher, there is a chance the county could move back up to ‘extreme risk’ and have stricter restrictions reinstated.

Extreme High Risk would mean indoor restaurant dinning would be banned, gyms would be forced to significantly limit the number of people using the facility and indoor entertainment also would facr limited capacities.

In high risk, indoor dining and indoor entertainment is allowed at 25% capacity. The number of people allowed to participate in outdoor events is expanded from 50 to 75.

If cases lower enough in the county, it could move down to ‘moderate risk’ and restaurants and indoor activities could expand capacity to 50%, among other eases of rules.

Timeline

On April 20, Governor Kate Brown announced the 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 23 through May 6, there will be 23 counties in the High Risk level, three at Moderate Risk, and 10 at Lower Risk. As case counts and hospitalizations increase and counties qualify for higher risk levels, increased safety measures for businesses and activities will resume. See the complete list of counties and their associated risk levels attached.

“As we face more contagious variants and increased spread of COVID-19 in our communities, the best way to protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated,” Brown said. “Until you, your family, your friends, and your neighbors are fully vaccinated, it’s also critical that we all continue to wear masks, maintain physical distance, and stay home when sick.”

Statewide hospitalization metrics for determining Extreme Risk

For counties to move to (or remain in) Extreme Risk, they must meet the county metrics for case rates and percent positivity, plus statewide hospitalization metrics: COVID-19 positive patients occupying 300 hospital beds or more, and a 15 percent increase in the seven-day hospitalization average over the past week.

This week there are 11 counties that qualify for Extreme Risk based on their county metrics, but are assigned High Risk because the statewide hospitalization triggers have not been met: Baker, Clackamas, Columbia, Crook, Deschutes, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Linn, Marion, and Polk.

Three 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 three counties:

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 May 4 and take effect May 7.

Updates to Warning Week data and county risk levels will be posted to coronavirus.oregon.gov.

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