Wasco County in “extreme risk” category for COVID-19

Wasco County is one of 21 Oregon counties Gov. Kate Brown has placed in an “extreme risk” category for spread of COVID-19, and restrictions will remain in place in those counties after the two-week statewide “freeze” ends Dec. 2.

Wasco County has seen 112 COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks. By comparison, it took three and a half months to log the county’s first 112 cases. It mirrors what is happening statewide, where cases and hospitalizations are at an all-time high.

Brown announced Wednesday the strict health and safety measures will take effect Dec. 3, at the end of the “freeze,” which she implemented to slow the COVID surge.

Under the new framework, in “extreme risk” counties outdoor-only seating is allowed at restaurants, but take-out is “highly recommended.” Social gatherings remain limited to six people from a maximum of two households, and gyms remain closed.

Retail stores are limited to 50 percent capacity and faith institutions are limited to 25 percent capacity indoors or 100 people, whichever is smaller, and 150 people outdoors. Businesses are required to implement remote work to the fullest extent possible, and offices must be closed to the public, if possible.

Only outside visitation is allowed at long term care facilities in “extreme risk” counties.

Personal service businesses like barber shops and hair salons and non-medical massage remain allowed.

Sherman and Gilliam counties are in the lowest of the four risk categories. In these “lower risk” counties, indoor gatherings can have up to 10 people with a recommended limit of four households, and outdoor gatherings can have a maximum of 12 people.

Restaurants in lower risk counties can open for indoor dining at 50 percent capacity and retail stores can be at 75 percent capacity. Faith institutions can be at 75 percent of capacity indoors, or 300 people outdoors.

Visitation is allowed at long term care facilities in lower risk counties.

On Monday, Nov. 30, the Oregon Health Authority will reexamine county data to determine which counties qualify for each risk level starting on Dec. 3. Risk levels will be reevaluated every two weeks.

The state stressed that there is no “zero risk” category. Until vaccines are widely available, health and safety precautions will remain in place so that schools, businesses and communities can reopen and stay open.

Oregonians must continue to wear masks, wash hands, keep physically distant from those not in their household, stay home when sick, and keep get-togethers small.

For more information on the risk framework, see https://govstatus.egov.com/or-covid-19, or call North Central Public Health District at 541-506-2600 or visit our website at www.ncphd.org.