‘Rapid surge’ puts 15 counties back in Extreme Risk


Multnomah County joins 14 others in rolling back

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Fifteen Oregon counties were moved into the Extreme Risk category as COVID cases surge in the state — including Multnomah County.

The move made by Governor Kate Brown Tuesday came as a result of the “rapid spread of COVID-19 in Oregon.” Hospitalizations rose above 300 people statewide and has threatened to overwhelm healthcare providers. Counties that moved into the Extreme Rusk category will be under tighter restrictions through Thursday, May 6, according to Brown.

Risk Level of Oregon counties as of April 27, 2021

  • Extreme Risk: Baker, Clackamas, Columbia, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Wasco
  • High Risk: Benton, Clatsop, Coos, Hood River, Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington, Umatilla, Yamhill
  • Moderate Risk: Curry, Douglas, Malheur, Tillamook
  • Lower Risk: Gilliam, Harney, Lake, Morrow, Sherman, Union, Wallowa, Wheeler

Sector risk guidance levels are at the bottom of this article

“If we don’t act now, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers in Oregon will be stretched to their limits treating severe cases of COVID-19,” said Governor Brown in a release Tuesday. “Today’s announcement will save lives and help stop COVID-19 hospitalizations from spiking even higher. With new COVID-19 variants widespread in so many of our communities, it will take all of us working together to bring this back under control.”

Despite all the vaccine clinics, 70% of Oregonians are still not fully vaccinated. Many are still trying to get an appointment or waiting for their second dose.

COVID case counts are up almost 60% in the past 2 weeks, putting Oregon at the top of the US at that pace. The variants are transmitting fast through unvaccinated people.

What it means

Extreme Risk level requires businesses, gyms and restaurants to drastically reduce capacity. Restaurants could only offer takeout and outdoor dining. Outdoor tables would be limited to six people from two households.

The governor also said outdoor seating for bars, restaurants and other venues will now be doubled to 100 in Extreme Risk counties. Safety protocols must remain in place

There is a lot of anger from the business community about the governor’s restrictions.

The restaurant association said the governor’s office is “tone deaf and offensive,” that their businesses are being targeted when there have been no super-spreader events in Oregon tied to restaurants or gyms.

Brown and legislators are workong on a $20 million emergency relief package to help businesses once again impacted by the Extreme Risk designation.

“After conversations with legislative leaders, I am confident we can move quickly to bring relief to businesses and their employees in Extreme Risk counties,” the governor said. “The vast majority of Oregon businesses have followed our health and safety guidance to protect Oregonians from COVID-19, even though doing so has come with an economic cost. This emergency aid will help businesses in Extreme Risk counties.”

There is great concern hospitals could soon be overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

“Because of the way COVID-19 plays out hospitalizations tend to lag by 1-2 weeks and given how busy they are at this moment with people who need to be in the hospital they are trying to find a way to blunt those COVID-19 hospitalizations that are in the pipeline,” said Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler reacted to the restrictions saying, “The key to reopening our city is ending the pandemic, so I am concerned about the significant increase in cases statewide.”

Wheeler also encouraged people in Portland to use ShopSmallPDX.com, a site providing resources for supporting hundreds of local businesses.

Brown said counties will not stay in Extreme Risk for more than 3 weeks at a time, and it could be just a week if COVID cases go down. She will reassess next Tuesday, May 4.

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