Clatsop County will move from extreme risk for the coronavirus to high risk, allowing restaurants, gyms and other businesses to resume indoor services on Friday.
The state assesses risk in each county by measuring the rate of new virus cases and test positivity over two weeks. The high-risk level is defined as a case rate between 100 and 200 per 100,000 people and a test positivity rate between 8% and 10%.
As of Saturday, Clatsop County had 183 cases per 100,000 over a two-week period. Test positivity was 5.7%.
Restrictions may change depending on the risk level — extreme, high, moderate or lower. Clatsop County was among the majority of Oregon counties classified as extreme risk through the Christmas holiday, which limited restaurants and bars to takeout only and closed gyms, museums and other indoor venues.
“After weeks of diligent work by local leaders and public health officials to implement health and safety measures in their communities, this week’s county data is a welcome sign that we are making progress in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon,” Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement Tuesday. “The county risk level framework is meant to put us on track to reopen our schools, businesses and communities. It is not easy. Oregon families and businesses have made incredible sacrifices. If we work together, we will see more counties begin to lower their COVID-19 risk levels. If communities let down their guard too early, we could see our hard-won progress unravel just as quickly.
“Every week, more Oregonians are being vaccinated against this deadly disease. But, until vaccines are widely available with high participation rates, the surest way to open our communities is to continue practicing the measures we know are effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 — wear your mask, keep physical distance from others, avoid gatherings, wash your hands often and stay home when you are sick.”
Most Oregon counties — 23, including the Portland metro area — will remain at extreme risk. Clatsop County is one of six that will be at high risk through Jan. 14. Seven counties will be at lower risk.
In high-risk counties, indoor social gatherings will continue to be limited to six people from two households. Eight people can gather outdoors.
Indoor dining at restaurants and bars can resume, but at 25% of capacity — or up to 50 people — whichever is smaller, with an 11 p.m. closing time. Outdoor dining capacity can increase to 75 people. Tables must be limited to six people from two households.
Gyms, indoor pools, museums, theaters and other entertainment venues can operate at 25% of capacity, or up to 50 people, whichever is smaller.
Grocery stores, pharmacies, retail shops and shopping malls can operate at 50% of capacity.
Churches can open at 25% of capacity or 150 people indoors, whichever is smaller, and 200 people outdoors.
Businesses should urge employees to work remotely.
Visits can resume inside long-term care facilities.
Clatsop County has reported 586 virus cases since March.
David Reid, the executive director of the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce, said the drop in the case count is good news.
“It’s good news for our restaurants, museums, fitness facilities and attractions because they have more options in the coming two weeks,” he said in an email. “It’s good news for consumers as they, too, will have more options available.
“We can all help affect this and keep us moving in the right direction by remaining vigilant in our efforts to avoid gatherings, mask up, sanitize, etc. – all the things we already know we should be doing. Remember that the difference we can make is measured in human lives, not just our economy and consumer convenience.”