PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Beginning Friday only two of Oregon's 36 counties — Coos and Douglas — will remain in the “extreme risk” level category, due to COVID-19 spread in the area.
In addition, Multnomah County — the state's most populous county and home of Portland — will improve to the “moderate risk” tier, which allows for increased capacity in restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and stores.
“We are largely seeing case rates decline across the state,” Gov. Kate Brown said Tuesday, when she announced the updated risk levels. “This should serve as a reminder that when we follow the health and safety measures we know work against this virus, we can truly make a difference in infection spread."
Every two weeks state epidemiologists assess each counties risk levels, based on COVID-19 spread in the area, and assigns safety measures and restrictions based on that level in an effort to decrease COVID-19 cases.
Under the “extreme risk” level, generally, indoor dining, indoor exercise at gyms and indoor visits at long-term care facilities are prohibited among other restrictions.
For a county to make it to a lower level, the counties with at least 30,0000 residents must have a COVID-19 case count less than 200 per 100,000 people and a test positivity rate less than 10%.
The most recent data on the Oregon Health Authority's website shows that Coos County, which is along the coast, reported 376 cases per 100,000 people. Douglas County, which borders Coos County, reported 243 cases per 100,000 people.
For more than two months the the Portland tri-county area fell in the “extreme risk” category until February. The metro area continues to improve, most recently reporting 62 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of 2.2%.
Multnomah will move into the “moderate risk” tier on Friday. Under the new level, indoor dining and gyms can increase to 50% maximum occupancy or 100 people, whichever is smaller.
In addition, retail stores in “moderate risk” counties can increase their capacity to 75% occupancy and outdoor entertainment establishments can have a maximum of 150 people.
On Tuesday, the Oregon Health Authority reported 517 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the state total to 158,007. The death toll is 2,303.
Cline is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.