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Oregon will remove restrictions on indoor eating as hospitalized patients with COVID-19 increased by 14.9% instead of 15%

To relieve cramped restaurants and residents desperate to return to normal, despite the fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday she would lift a set of “extreme risk” restrictions by the end of the week. which suffocated businesses in 15 Oregon counties.

Moreover, Brown said he did not expect to restore those restrictions again during the pandemic.

Extreme risk limits have only been in place in the 1

5 counties since last Friday, but the governor said on Tuesday that they would be lifted this Friday because one of its pre-set targets was not met: The seven-day average of hospitalized COVIDs – 19 patients across the country have grown by only 14.9% – the required 15%. The state will also not apply conditions for extreme risks in new districts due to this missed indicator.

If the number of hospitalized patients had increased by just two more in the last week, the 15% requirement would have been met and all 15 counties – plus at least two new ones – would be under extended high-risk public safety measures by the end of the week.

“Based on today’s figures, I live up to my commitment to the Oregons,” Brown said in a statement Tuesday. “… I know this will bring relief to many in the state.”

Brown and public health officials link the strictest business restrictions to three indicators: a high percentage of coronavirus cases at the county level; state hospitalizations COVID-19 over 300; and COVID-19 hospitalizations increase weekly by at least 15%.

Until Tuesday, it appears that the restrictions will remain in the counties identified last week, as well as in some others, based on increasing local cases.

But a slight reduction in reported hospitalizations on Tuesday – to 345 patients with COVID-19 – slowed Oregon’s overall growth rate, meaning one of Brown’s criteria was no longer met.

Brown’s decision to initially put the counties at “extreme risk” last week drew intense criticism from many Oregonians, although hospitalizations rose 37 percent in one week at the time. On Tuesday, she seems to be struggling with her decision to remove the name, starting this Friday.

She announced her decision only after 17:00 on Tuesday – a few hours later than usual, she announced changes in the country’s risk levels and restrictions in the past. Officials had declined to discuss what changes would be made throughout the afternoon.

Asked if Brown is considering maintaining the restrictions or extending them, Charles Boyle, a spokesman for the governor, will not answer directly.

“I think it’s fair to say that there have been internal discussions to review the data and discuss what it would mean for changes in the county’s risk level,” he said in a text message.

Multnomah and Clackamas counties will now be among the 15 counties allowed to reopen 25% indoor dining, coming on Friday, among other loosening restrictions, as the counties fall into the “high risk” category. Washington County, which would be at extreme risk due to the growing incidence of COVID-19 over the past two weeks, will remain at high risk.

Brown said he did not expect the counties to be re-identified as an exceptional risk due to the growing number of Oregons vaccinated. Tuesday, amounting to about 32% fully vaccinated and 46% partially vaccinated, roughly in line with national averages.

“Let me be clear: Across the state, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are still high, and Oregon has not yet come out of the woods,” the governor said. “… Vaccinations are still our best way to protect our loved ones and stay on track to fully open our economy by the end of June.”

The fourth surge in coronavirus cases in Oregon began in March, as did the rest of the country. But Oregon is among a minority of states that understand the national trend of declining coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

Last week, new known cases grew faster in Oregon than anywhere else in the country. And while Oregon has had the third lowest number of known infections per capita since the pandemic began, it ranks 12th in height in the past two weeks. New infections increased by 16% during this period.

But over the past four days, the seven-day moving average for new infections has dropped, and officials hope the tide will return to the state.

According to the high-risk label, restaurants and bars in the counties, which make up nearly 70 percent of Oregonians, were banned from offering indoor dining. Gymnasiums, cinemas, concert halls, bowling alleys and indoor swimming pools were allowed for up to six clients at once. But the business can serve up to 100 customers outdoors at once, with a number of companies, such as restaurants, saying they didn’t help because they didn’t have open space.

The counties affected are: Baker, Clackamas, Columbia, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk and Wasco. At least two other counties – Washington and Benton – would be at extreme risk if hospitalizations increased by 15%.

Under the more lenient risk limits, businesses – including restaurants, bars, gyms, bowling alleys, cinemas, concert halls and indoor pools – are allowed to work with a maximum capacity of 25% or 50 people indoors, whichever is more. -a little. (See the full list of restrictions here.)

Jason Brand, president of the Oregon Restaurant and Home Association, said Brown’s loosening of the restaurant was “a huge relief for thousands of business owners and tens of thousands of workers in our industry.” According to him, some owners monitor the number of hospitalizations and the percentage increase on a daily basis.

Brand added that with the busiest day of the year in the restaurant business, falling on Sunday, May 9, the changes will come for a short time.

“Just in time,” he said, “for Mother’s Day.”

Coronavirus in Oregon: Latest news | Live map tracking |Text warnings | Bulletin

– Amy Green; agreen@oregonian.com; @o_aimee

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