After just two weeks closed, Curry County dining, recreation and entertainment establishments will be allowed to restart indoor operations Friday.
According to the latest COVID-19 data from the Oregon Health Authority, the county will move into the high-risk category of the state’s pandemic restrictions — a step below the extreme-risk category where the county has remained since late March.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced the move Tuesday, alongside a number of other changes for counties across the state. Fourteen of the state’s 36 counties are now in the high-risk level, including six which moved from less-restrictive categories.
“We are at a critical moment in this pandemic as we face more contagious variants of COVID-19 taking hold in our communities,” Brown wrote in a release Tuesday. “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.”
The change means indoor dining and recreation will again be permitted in the county starting Friday, though capacities will still be limited until the county moves into lower categories of restrictions. Among the rules:
• Indoor dining will be limited to 25% capacity, or 50 people, whichever is smaller. Outdoor dining will be limited to 75 people, and all parties will be limited to six people from two households.
• Indoor entertainment, recreation and fitness establishments will be limited to 25% capacity, or 50 people, whichever is smaller. Indoor full-contact sports remain prohibited, and entertainment venues must close at 11 p.m.
• Outdoor entertainment, recreation and fitness establishments will be limited to a maximum of 15% occupancy and must close at 11 p.m.
• Inside and outside visitation is allowed at long-term care centers.
• Funeral homes, mortuaries and cemeteries will be limited to 25% capacity indoors, or 150 people total, whichever is smaller, and outdoor capacity will be limited to 200 people maximum. Faith institutions are advised to follow the same requirements.
• Indoor and outdoor shopping centers, malls and retail stores will be restricted to 50% capacity, with curbside pick-up encouraged.
• Offices may open, but remote work is recommended if able.
• Social gatherings should be limited to six people from two households indoors, and eight people outdoors.
Monday’s numbers show the county’s made improvements in its COVID-19 case rates, bringing it under the 60 cases in two weeks and 10% test positivity needed to escape the extreme level.
The numbers show the county had 47 cases and 5.2% test positivity rate for the March 21 through April 3 timeframe.
Still, the figures don’t mean the county is out of the woods yet.
Curry County’s per-person case rate is still the seventh highest of the state’s 36 counties, and another uptick could easily send the county back to the most restrictive category.
Brown also announced a new metric Tuesday, which the state must meet in order for any county to move back to the extreme-risk level: 300 or more COVID-19 positive patients occupying hospital beds statewide, and a 15% increase in the seven-day average hospitalizations over the past week.
As of Tuesday, 177 across the state were hospitalized with the virus.
The state will reevaluate metrics in two weeks and announce new county restriction levels April 20. If the county maintains its current case rates, it’ll stay in the high-risk category.
A decrease in rates below 45 cases in two weeks and 8% test positivity will bring the county to the moderate-risk level, which expands the allowable occupancy of the county’s businesses.
Curry reports ninth death
Curry County also reported its ninth virus-related death over the weekend.
An 87-year-old man who tested positive March 16 died March 21 at his residence, according to OHA. The OHA reported he had underlying conditions.
County officials reported 21 new cases of the virus in the county during the week ending April 5. Eighteen were from the county’s southern region, and three were from the county’s central region, according to Public Health Administrator Sherrié Ward.
Hospital making vaccine appointments
Across the state, OHA reported Tuesday that nearly 1.3 million residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine — though county-level numbers were unavailable due to a reporting error.
Curry Health Network has modified how it distributes vaccines in the county: Moving away from a complex series of waitlists, the organization is now making appointments for individual vaccine events for anyone eligible to receive a vaccine.
Generally, when supplies allow, vaccination events take place at Curry Family Medical in Port Orford, Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach and Curry Medical Center in Brookings.
More information and registration is available online at www.curryhealthnetwork.com/education.
A number of other locations in the county are also making vaccination appointments, including Rite Aid, Safeway and Albertsons stores, Fred Meyer, some Health Mart pharmacies, Bi-Mart and Walmart.
A wide section of the population is currently eligible for a vaccine, including frontline workers and their household families, those 16 and older with underlying conditions, those in multi-generational households, those displaced by wildfires and more.
Brown also announced early Tuesday the state would be expanding vaccine eligibility soon: Starting April 19, anyone in Oregon 16 and older will be eligible to receive a vaccine. A full eligibility schedule is available online at covidvaccine.oregon.gov/.