One week ago, the Governor and state health officials imposed the freeze, 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 have spiked throughout the month of November.
Under the new framework, counties can fall into one of four risk categories: lower, moderate, high and extreme risk. Twenty-one counties fall into the extreme category—meaning they won't be reopening on the Dec. 2 target date set at the outset of the Two-Week Freeze, Brown said Wednesday. Six counties were deemed "high risk," including Prineville's Crook County.
The Oregon Health Authority has a list of activities allowed under each risk category—though it's not yet clear what criteria OHA will use to determine each county's risk.
Starting Nov. 30, the Oregon Health Authority will analyze each county's data to determine risk categories.
- Oregon Health Authority
- County risk levels as of Nov. 25, according to Gov. Kate Brown's new health and safety framework.
Counties remaining in the "extreme risk" category will be subject to ongoing restrictions, including:
-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.
In Bend, St. Charles Health System's CEO and President Joe Sluka pleaded with the community to limit gathering sizes over the Thanksgiving holiday, noting the limited supply of Intensive Care Unit beds in Oregon.
Instead of gatherings, Sluka suggested people set up virtual meals to gather for the holiday—but ended his note with a ray of hope.
Patrick Allen, Director of the Oregon Health Authority, said at a press conference Wednesday 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 with 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.
-Ashley Moreno contributed to this report.