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4-08 covid-19

Klamath County has been pulled back from the brink of business closures, according to Governor Kate Brown’s latest COVID-19 county risk level update made on Tuesday.

Based on rising case rates over the past several weeks, the county will move to “high risk” level at the end of this week — where business capacity must be limited but no restaurants will be forced to close indoor dining.

Klamath County logged 178 cases during the state’s movement period from March 21 to April 3, with a test positivity rate of 10.8%. Both of those metrics qualified it for “extreme risk” under the previous framework, which would have prohibited indoor dining and significantly reduced capacity at all businesses.

Brown introduced a new statewide metric that would qualify counties for “extreme risk,” which is not currently being met. Essentially, it doesn’t make “extreme risk” restrictions applicable unless there are 300 hospital beds filled and a 15% increase in the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases across the entire state. As of Monday, 177 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in Oregon.

“As vaccine distribution increases, case counts and percent positivity will not be adequate indicators on their own for measuring the threat COVID-19 poses to public health,” the release read.

Here’s what will change in Klamath County following the move to the high risk level on Friday (full list available here):

n Indoor dining capacity reduces by half, to 50 people or 25% maximum capacity, whichever is smaller

n Outdoor dining capacity reduces by half, to 75 people, and outdoor seating reduces to six people per table from a maximum of two households

n Churches and funeral homes reduce indoor capacity to 25% or 150 people, whichever is smaller, and outdoor capacity to 200 people

n Indoor museums, theaters and other entertainment establishments reduce capacity by half to 25% occupancy or 50 people, whichever is smaller

n Outdoor sports stadiums reduce capacity from 25% to 15%, and outdoor full-contact sports for all ages are allowed

n Retail and grocery stores reduce from 75% to 50% capacity

■ At-home social gatherings limited to a maximum of 8 people outdoors and 6 people indoors

Klamath County Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris said county leaders advocated last week for the change in metrics related to extreme risk status. She said that given the increasing availability of vaccines locally, the risk for hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 is lower than it was during Klamath County’s November surge.

“I am relieved our restaurants didn’t have to have the roller coaster of opening and closing yet again. I know everyone is craving some stability,” she said.

Still, cases continue to rise locally, statewide and nationwide, and not enough people have been vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. Governor Brown urged Oregonians to continue following public health guidelines and get vaccinated to curb the spread of COVID-19.

{span}“We are at a critical moment in this pandemic as we face more contagious variants of COVID-19 taking hold in our communities,” she said. “Now more than ever it’s imperative that we all continue wearing masks, maintain physical distance, stay home when sick, and get the vaccine when it’s available to you.”{/span}