After two months open, indoor dining and recreation will close once again in Curry County starting Friday.
The changes come as Curry County enters the extreme-risk category of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, as announced by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority on Tuesday.
As one of the two counties in the extreme-risk category (Coos County to the north is the only other), the county faces higher restrictions than most of the rest of the state.
"This week we continue to see the majority of counties at lower and moderate risk, and I want to thank Oregonians once again for making smart choices throughout this pandemic," Brown wrote in a press release Tuesday.
Most of the state’s higher-population counties are in less-restrictive categories due to their lower rates of virus spread in the community, like Eugene’s Lane County in the low-risk category, and the Portland metro area’s Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties in the moderate-risk category.
In a return to the extreme level, Curry County faces some changes under the governor’s executive orders:
Restaurants may no longer offer indoor dining. Outdoor dining will be allowed, but with a limit of 50 people, a maximum of six people per table from two households.
Indoor recreation and fitness establishments, including gyms, indoor recreational sports, indoor pools and indoor dance, among other things, face significant limits on capacity. Establishments 500 square feet and larger can have six people in shared indoor spaces, if households have six feet of distance between them. Smaller establishments may have a total of one customer and one employee at a time, and eating or drinking is prohibited at all establishments (other than individual water bottles).
Outdoor recreation and fitness establishments will still be allowed, up to 50 people.
Outdoor entertainment establishments, like zoos, gardens and outdoor event spaces, will be limited to a maximum of 50 people.
Long-term care centers will be limited to outdoor visitation only.
Offices must close to the public and require remote work if able.
Indoor and outdoor social gatherings will be limited to six people, with a maximum of two households.
The county’s recent virus data make clear why it changed categories this week: Its case rate has been increasing every week this month. According to OHA, Curry County reported 69 new cases between March 7 and 20.
The same time period saw a test positivity rate of 7.3% — second in the state only to Coos County.
To leave the extreme-risk category, Curry County will need to report fewer than 45 cases between March 21 and April 3, as well as a test positivity below 10%. The state will release new warning week data Tuesday, and reassign risk levels April 6 to take affect April 9.
According to County Public Health Administrator Sherrié Ward, Curry County saw 38 new cases of the virus between March 16 and 22. Twenty-three came from south county, 13 came from central county and two from north county.
“These cases are related to previously reported cases, large families, schools and from work places,” Ward wrote in a press release Monday.
Vaccinations are advancing in the county, with around 5,400 residents vaccinated by Tuesday, ranking it 16th in the state by people vaccinated per resident.
Where are vaccines available?
Several different sites across the region are administering vaccine doses, and not all use the same waitlist information, so health officials say it may be necessary to attempt multiple sites simultaneously to get a dose most quickly.
Curry Health Network is continuing to distribute COVID-19 vaccine doses to county residents in phases 1a and 1b, which includes health workers, educators and those over 65. The hospital network is keeping waitlists for anyone, in any group, interested in receiving a vaccine, online at www.curryhealthnetwork.com/education.
Several pharmacies are administering vaccines separately. Each has its own policies, but is bound by the state’s guidance, meaning those who are currently eligible for vaccines can sign up for appointments.
Walmart has begun administering vaccines. Appointments can be made online at www.walmart.com/COVIDvaccine.
Bi-Mart pharmacies at some locations are administering vaccines. Appointments can be made online at www.bimart.com/pharmacy/covid-19-vaccine.
Fred Meyer is administering vaccines at some locations. Appointments can be made online at www.fredmeyer.com/rx/covid-eligibility.
Some Health Mart pharmacies, which have locations in Reedsport and Gold Beach, are administering vaccines. Appointments can be made online at www.healthmartcovidvaccine.com.