Central Oregon's Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties are in the "extreme" risk category in Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's new health and safety framework—meaning that for Central Oregon and much of the state, the lockdown that began as a Two-Week Freeze could very well stay in place longer than expected. State health officials took a look at case numbers Nov. 30 to determine risk categories following the freeze, scheduled to end Dec. 2.
The Governor and state health officials imposed the freeze Nov. 18, which shut down in-person dining and shuttered gyms, among other restrictions, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon. Positive COVID-19 cases in the state spiked throughout the month of November.
- courtesy Oregon Health Authority
Under the new framework, counties can fall into one of four risk categories: lower, moderate, high and extreme risk. Twenty-five of Oregon's 36 counties fell into the extreme category as of Dec. 1—meaning they won't be reopening on the Dec. 2 target date set at the outset of the Two-Week Freeze, Brown said.
"Counties that are facing extreme risk of virus spread will need to continue with strict health and safety measures, similar to the Two-Week Freeze," said Governor Brown in a Dec. 1 statement.
Counties remaining in the "extreme risk" category will be subject to ongoing restrictions, which are eased slightly from the restrictions under the initial freeze, but still keep many businesses closed:
-Social and at-home gatherings with people outside one's household will be limited to a maximum of six people, with a recommended limit of two households.
-Restaurants, bars, and other eating and drinking establishments will be limited to a maximum of 50 people for outdoor dining only, with only six people per table. Takeout is strongly encouraged.
-Indoor recreation, fitness and entertainment establishments, including gyms, will remain closed; however, outdoor recreation, fitness, and entertainment activities, including outdoor gym activities, will be allowed, with a maximum limit of 50 people outdoors.
-Retail stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, and indoor and outdoor shopping centers and malls will be limited to a maximum of 50% of capacity, with curbside pick-up encouraged.
-Faith institutions, funeral homes, mortuaries and cemeteries will be limited to a maximum of 25% of capacity or 100 people indoors (whichever is smaller), or 150 people outdoors.
-Office workplaces will be required to utilize remote work to the maximum extent possible, with public-facing offices closed to the public.
-Personal services businesses will be allowed to continue to operate with health and safety measures in place.
-Long-term care facilities can allow limited outdoor visitation, following established health and safety protocols.
Patrick Allen, Director of the Oregon Health Authority, said Nov. 25 that Oregon is expecting to begin vaccinating people against COVID-19 as early as the end of December, starting with health care workers who work closely with people with the virus. The first round of doses is expected to vaccinate 30,000 people—though with some 300,000 health care workers in the state and a federal plan for distribution still in the works, it's not yet clear how quickly the general public may see vaccines available, Allen said.
-A version of this story was published Nov. 25 at bendsource.com and has since been updated to reflect new numbers. Ashley Moreno contributed to this report.