On Tuesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced 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. Lane County is one of six counties that jumped to high risk, a marked change from its lower risk status.
Other counties in the high-risk designation are Baker, Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington and Yamhill.
As case counts and hospitalizations increase and counties qualify for higher risk levels, increased safety measures for businesses and activities will resume.
“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,” said Brown. “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.”
Hospitalization metrics are used for determining “Extreme Risk” statewide.
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. These include 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 a 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 Grant, Malheur and Umatilla counties.
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 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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