SALEM, Ore. — Despite gradually declining coronavirus cases statewide, Oregon's county risk levels remain largely unmoved under the latest list published by state officials. But for counties under the highest restrictions, the new list brings with it some relief for gyms and similar businesses.
Effective January 29 through February 11, there will be 25 counties in the Extreme Risk level, two at High Risk, one at Moderate Risk, and eight at Lower Risk.
In southern Oregon, the only two counties to see a change were Curry and Lake counties, which dropped from Moderate to Lower Risk — the lowest possible level of restrictions under the state plan. Jackson, Josephine, and Klamath counties remain at Extreme Risk.
“Most of the state remains in the Extreme Risk category," said Governor Brown in a statement. "This is an important reminder for all Oregonians to continue to do their part by abiding by the health and safety guidelines in place. Until vaccines are widely available with high participation rates, the surest way to lower our risk and open our businesses and 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."
Brown's office said that some of the Extreme Risk guidance has been modified, also effective January 29. The change allows for a maximum of six people to be indoors at facilities over 500 square feet — for "all indoor activities except dining" — as long as social distancing, cleaning, and face covering guidance is followed.
For smaller buildings, the modified guidance allows for "1:1 customer experiences, such as personal training."
"The science has shown us that outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities when it comes to the spread of COVID 19, which is why we have clearly delineated guidance between indoor and outdoor activities," said Governor Brown. "We have seen over the last several weeks that Oregonians have largely complied with risk levels to the point that we have not seen a surge in hospitalizations that would have jeopardized hospital capacity. This means we are able to make these adjustments for Extreme Risk counties, which should assist both businesses and Oregonians as we continue to work to stop the spread of COVID-19."
The Oregon Health Authority goes over county COVID-19 data every week, changing county risk levels every two weeks.
EDIT: An earlier version of this story indicated that Lake County remained at Moderate, which was later corrected by Governor Kate Brown's office: "The original data for calculating Lake County's risk level included 12 cases from adults in custody at Warner Creek Correctional Facility in Lakeview, which should not have been included in the county's risk level metrics. Because adults in custody do not interact with members of the broader community, the Oregon Health Authority is subtracting these cases from Lake County's risk level calculation, as they do with all other counties with correctional facilities."