Multnomah County, along with 14 other Oregon counties, will drop from “Extreme Risk” to “High Risk” beginning Friday, May 7. Gov. Kate Brown announced the changes to county risk levels on Tuesday evening, citing a leveling off of hospitalizations statewide.
Moving from “Extreme” to “High” risk means that restaurants and bars can serve people indoors, while entertainment venues and gyms can expand capacity.
The state evaluates risk based on two county metrics: overall rate of disease and the percentage of people who test positive for COVID-19. For a “High Risk” county to qualify for “Extreme Risk,” statewide metrics for hospitalizations must also be met. The seven-day average increase for hospitalized COVID-19 positive patients slipped just below 15 percent, leading Brown to announce that Oregon no longer meets that statewide metric for the “Extreme Risk” level.
In Multnomah County, however, hospitalization rates have been steadily increasing since late March.
But there are hopeful signs that a local surge might be losing steam. Cases continued to increase in Multnomah County last week, but more slowly. And because hospitalizations tend to lang behind cases, Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said, suggesting we may begin to see hospitalizations from COVID-19 beginning to level off.
And, after weeks of rising numbers, the percentage of people who tested positive in Multnomah County remained flat, just above 5 percent.
“People are getting vaccinated. And cases appear to be leveling off and we expect to see hospitalizations come down, but things can change quickly depending on the choices people make,” said Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines. “It's a more complicated picture today than it was a year ago because of the variants, but there’s lots of room for optimism in the near future. The two most important things people can do right now is get vaccinated and wear a mask indoors.”
Effective Friday, 15 counties will return to “High Risk.” A complete list of counties and their risk levels is available here.
In counties at “High” risk, the following activities are allowed, with health protocols in place:
Gatherings inside your home are limited to no more than six people from two households; Gatherings outside your home are limited to no more than eight people.
Restaurants, bars and other food establishments may operate indoor dining at 25 percent capacity or 50 people, whichever is smaller; Outdoor dining is permitted for a maximum of 120 people. Takeout is strongly encouraged.
Indoor recreation, fitness and entertainment, including gyms, may operate at a maximum 10 percent occupancy or 50 people total whichever is larger.
Outdoor recreation, fitness and entertainment, including outdoor gym activities, may operate at 15 percent capacity. Outdoor full-contact sports are allowed with conditions.
Retail stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, shopping centers and malls will be limited to 50 percent capacity. Curbside pickup is encouraged.
Faith institutions, funeral homes, mortuaries and cemeteries will be limited to 25 percent capacity or 150 people indoors, whichever is smaller; or 200 people outdoors.
Office workplaces are recommended to use remote work to the extent possible.