Face masks. Photo: Chas Hundley
On Friday, ten Oregon counties — Washington County among them — will move from the “extreme risk” category, nine to the high risk category and one to the moderate risk category as COVID-19 stats improve in most of the state, Governor Kate Brown announced Tuesday morning.
Two other counties also improved enough to drop to the lowest category, but one county — Lake — will move up from lower risk to moderate risk.
The counties are expected to remain where they are in the governor's framework for two weeks, from Friday Feb. 12 through Feb. 25.
“Thanks to Oregonians who have stepped up and made smart choices, we have made incredible progress in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives in Oregon," said Brown. "This week we will see 10 counties move out of Extreme Risk, including the Portland tri-county area, for the first time since November. This is welcome news, as we'll start to see more businesses open up and Oregonians being able to get out a bit more.
"It’s also incredibly important that we continue to remain vigilant and protect our neighbors and loved ones as we face virulent new strains of COVID-19. This means continuing to wear masks, keep our physical distance, and avoid indoor gatherings. If we want to keep businesses open, reopen schools for in-person instruction, and stay safe, we must keep up our guard. Until vaccines are more widely available, case counts could go back up if we don't keep following safety measures."
On Friday, Washington County restaurants will be permitted to seat customers indoors, gyms, fitness centers and swimming pools may go from just six customers at a time to a maximum of 25% occupancy or 50 people total, whichever is smaller.
Inside visitation will be allowed at long-term care facilities, and museums and theaters may allow more customers. Visit https://coronavirus.oregon.gov/Pages/living-with-covid-19.aspx for more regulations.
The move also means that Washington County school districts can start indoor volleyball practices on Feb. 22, the OSAA determined in a meeting on Monday, Feb. 8.
This story has been updated after Gov. Brown issued a correction noting that Harney County would remain at lower risk.