SALEM, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown scheduled a press conference for Wednesday afternoon to address Oregon's coronavirus response and new health and safety measures set to take effect once the two-week "freeze" ends.
According to embargoed information from Brown's office, those measures center around a new system of four COVID-19 "risk levels" for each county in the state — Extreme, High, Moderate, and Lower Risk — each carrying certain restrictions. The system is similar to California's tiered coronavirus plan.
The highest level, "Extreme Risk," includes similar limitations to those currently in place statwide for the two-week freeze.
"With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations at an all-time high for the pandemic, Governor Kate Brown today urged Oregonians to remember that the entire state is under a Two-Week Freeze, and to keep their Thanksgiving gatherings small and use precautions to protect themselves and loved ones from the spread of COVID-19," the Governor's office said in a preliminary statement. "With infection rates surging in Oregon, the Governor also cautioned that strict health and safety measures will likely need to remain in place for at least 21 counties found to be at extreme risk for COVID-19 spread following the Two-Week Freeze, which ends on December 2."
Oregon's risk categories as of Wednesday placed Jackson and Klamath counties in the Extreme category. Josephine and Lake counties fall into the High Risk level, and Curry County is at Moderate Risk.
For counties at the Extreme Risk level, the following measures will be in place:
- Social and at-home gatherings with people from outside your household will be limited to a maximum of six people, with a recommended limit of two households.
- Restaurants, bars, and other eating and drinking establishments will be limited to a maximum of 50 people for outdoor dining only, with only six people per table. Take-out is strongly encouraged.
- Indoor recreation, fitness, and entertainment establishments, including gyms, will remain closed, however, outdoor recreation, fitness, and entertainment activities, including outdoor gym activities, will be allowed, with a maximum limit of 50 people outdoors.
- Retail stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, and indoor and outdoor shopping centers and malls will be limited to a maximum of 50% of capacity, with curbside pick-up encouraged.
- Faith institutions, funeral homes, mortuaries, and cemeteries will be limited to a maximum of 25% of capacity or 100 people indoors (whichever is smaller), or 150 people outdoors.
- Office workplaces will be required to utilize remote work to the maximum extent possible, with public-facing offices closed to the public.
- Personal services businesses will be allowed to continue to operate with health and safety measures in place.
- Long-term care facilities can allow limited outdoor visitation, following established health and safety protocols.
"On Monday, November 30, the Oregon Health Authority will reexamine county data to determine which counties qualify for each risk level on December 3, following the end of the 2-Week Freeze," the Governor's office said. "In each subsequent two-week period, the Oregon Health Authority will examine and publish county data weekly, but county risk levels will not change until the end of the second week. In the first week, counties will be given Warning Week data to prepare for potential risk level changes. In the second week, county risk levels will be updated based on that week’s data."
Oregon counties that are successful in reducing their COVID-19 risk levels in the coming weeks and months will be able to incrementally move to lower risk levels, the Governor's office said.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 1,189 new confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases on Wednesday, as days with upwards of a thousand new cases become increasingly common. State officials also reported 20 more deaths attributed to the virus.
This is a developing story and will be updated with more details as they emerge.