You did it, Malheur County – data shows drop in Covid, eased restrictions could come next week

Health officials hope the one-day testing event will give local authorities a better sense of the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community.(The Enterprise/file)

Malheur County may be headed for indoor dining and larger gatherings soon after new state data shows the pandemic has eased considerably locally.

The new figures posted by the Oregon Health Authority on Wednesday morning showed Malheur County moving from a county at “extreme risk” for the spread of Covid to a “moderate” risk.

Under state measures, restrictions would ease for restaurants, churches, entertainment facilities and outdoor events. New risk levels and restrictions take effect each Friday based on previous test results, so Malheur County could see the change take hold next week.

“Today’s report will not result in a change in Malheur County’s risk level this week,” said Sarah Poe, Malheur County Health Department director in a statement. “Continuing declines in new case counts and test positivity rates would enable the county to move out of the Extreme Risk level on Friday, Feb. 26.

The new numbers from the state for Malheur County show for the week ending Feb. 13:

•The rate of infection, calculated per 100,000 population, dropped to 128 from 300.

•The rate of positive tests for Covid dropped to 3.9% from 7.7%.

•The total case count dropped to 41 from 96.

Based on state standards for counties with moderate risk, Malheur County could see the following changes when the the change takes effect:

•Restaurants and bars: Indoor dining allowed, up to 50% capacity. Currently, indoor dining is prohibited. Maximum outdoor seating per table increases to 8 from 6.

•Theaters, museums and other indoor entertainment venues can open to 50% capacity or 100 people, whichever is smaller.

•Inside visits allowed a long-term care facilities. Currently, only visits outside are allowed.

•Contact sports are allowed and up to 150 people can attend outdoor events. The limit had been 50 people.

•Churches and funeral homes can now host indoor gatherings at 50% capacity or no more than 100 people. They had been limited to 50 people. Outdoor events can host up to 250 people. The limit had been 150 people.

“With fewer Covid-19 cases and sufficient recent testing, people in Malheur County should feel safer from the risk of coronavirus exposure,” Poe said. “We need to continue testing and following precautions to maintain this progress, especially with new virus variants that could increase transmission if we don’t prevent spread.”

CORRECTION: The change for Malheur County would take effect on Friday, Feb. 26 at the earliest. An earlier version incorrectly stated it would be this Friday, Feb. 19. The Enterprise apologizes for the error.


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