Six Oregon counties have reduced transmission of COVID-19 over the past two weeks, prompting the governor to allow them to ease restrictions on some business and personal activities.
Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday that Clatsop, Coos, Douglas, Lincoln and Morrow counties have been moved from Extreme Risk to High Risk under the state’s framework for assessing the risk posed by the spread of COVID-19.
Lake County was moved from Moderate Risk to Lower Risk.
Most of Oregon — 24 counties, including the entire Portland metro area and Willamette Valley — remains classified as Extreme Risk.
Brown called the news a welcome sign that efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus are working in some parts of the state.
“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,” the governor said in a press release.
The new risk levels are effective Jan. 1-14. The state reevaluates them every two weeks, determining risk based on the number of new COVID-19 cases or the number of new cases per capita, and the testing positivity rate.
The shift in counties’ risk levels comes as Oregon health officials shared case numbers suggesting that the spread of the virus is slowing, even as mortality rates remain high. State health officials reported 713 positive cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, meaning Oregon has had fewer than 1,000 new cases for the seventh time in the last ten days. That follows a period reaching back more than three weeks when Oregon had at least 1,000 new cases every day.
Death counts remain stubbornly high, however. Oregon reported 16 deaths Tuesday, across 11 counties - including one in Douglas County, which had been moved from Extreme Risk to High Risk, under the state’s framework.