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Columbia County’s COVID-19 case rate has risen slightly in the most recent two-week period, but not enough to move the county back up to ‘extreme risk.’

COVID-19 Update

Health authorities continue to stress that slowing the pandemic means everyone should be washing their hands frequently, practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings when out in public.

Both the county’s case rate and test positivity rate have risen since the last risk assessment two weeks ago. The county is currently in ‘high risk,’ and will remain there for at least another two weeks. Had new cases dramatically increased or decreased, the county would be changing risk levels this Friday, but the numbers have stayed within the ‘high risk’ range.

From Feb. 6-20, there were 77 new cases of COVID-19 in the county, which puts the county at a case rate of 146 per 100,000 people. The test positivity rate was 5.3% for that same time period. High risk counties need a case rate between 100-200 new cases reported over 14 days, and a test positivity rate between 8% to 10%, so Columbia County is still safely in ‘high risk’ territory, which allows restaurants to operate with indoor dining at 25% capacity.

The last time the county’s risk level was assessed by the state two weeks ago, there were 69 new cases reported over 14 days (from Jan. 24-Feb. 6) which put the case rate at 130.8 per 100,000 people and the test positivity rate was 4.2%.

If cases in the county continue to trend higher, there is a chance the county could move back up to ‘extreme risk’ and have stricter restrictions reinstated. If cases lower enough in the county, it could move down to ‘moderate risk’ and restaurants and indoor activities could expand capacity to 50%, among other eases of rules.

As of now, the county will remain in the ‘high risk’ category until the next risk assessment on March 9; any changes to the risk level will take effect on March 11.

The framework

The state’s risk level framework framework tracks each county’s COVID-19 case rate and test positivity rate over a two-week period to determine what set of restrictions that county will follow to reduce the spread of COVID-19. There are four levels: extreme risk, high risk, moderate risk and lower risk.

In high risk, indoor dining and indoor entertainment is allowed at 25% capacity. The number of people allowed to participate in outdoor events is also expanded from 50 to 75.

Case totals

Within Columbia County, there have been 1,217 cases of COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, and 21 pandemic-related deaths as of Feb. 22.

The statewide total number of cases is 153,134 and the death toll at 2,155.

Statewide classifications

Tuesday, Feb. 23, Gov. Kate Brown announced that 16 counties improved in risk level, with 10 of those improving from Extreme Risk. County risk levels under the state's public health framework aim to reduce transmission and protect Oregonians from COVID-19.

The framework uses four different risk levels for counties based on COVID-19 spread—Extreme Risk, High Risk, Moderate Risk, and Lower Risk—and assigns health and safety measures for each level.

Effective Feb. 26 through March 11, there will be five counties in the Extreme Risk level, 11 at High Risk, 10 at Moderate Risk, and 10 at Lower Risk.

“For the second time in a row, we are seeing great progress in stopping the spread of COVID-19 across Oregon and saving lives," Brown said. "Oregonians continue to step up and make smart choices. While these county movements are welcome news, we must continue to take seriously health and safety measures, especially as more businesses reopen and we start to get out more. As we see infection rates going down and vaccinations ramping up, now is not the time to let down our guard. Continue to wear your masks, keep physical distance, and avoid indoor gatherings."

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will examine and publish county data weekly. County risk levels will be reassigned every two weeks. The first week's data will provide a "warning week" to prepare counties for potential risk level changes. The next assignment of risk levels will be announced March 9 and take effect March 12.

Updates to Warning Week data and county risk levels will be posted to coronavirus.oregon.gov.

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