Josephine Co. drops to ‘High Risk’ category

GRANTS PASS, Ore.- After facing the state’s tightest restrictions for months, Josephine County is finally moving down to the ‘High’ risk level for the next two weeks. But local business owners hope it doesn’t stop there.

“I basically knew, as of Sunday that unless there was some major surprise, Josephine County had met the criteria to move into High risk,” said Dave Thomason, owner of several local businesses. He says ever since Jackson County dropped in risk level two weeks ago, he’s kept a close eye on Josephine’s metrics.

On Friday, Josephine County will move from the state’s Extreme risk COVID category to High risk, allowing the opening of indoor dining and expansion of capacity for places like gyms and indoor entertainment. For some, it doesn’t come as a surprise.

“We’ve been anticipating we would move down to high and when it was finally confirmed we were just so excited. We’ve been shut down since November,” said Josie Molloy is the head of the Grants Pass and Josephine County Chamber of Commerce Like other residents, she was surprised that the county did not move down a risk level when Jackson County did.

“It was definitely frustrating. We have a lot of businesses that own businesses in both counties and we saw there was a lot of confusion,” she explained.

Both Molloy and business owner, Dave Thomason, say the biggest win from the risk level change is for employees.

“One of the hardest things for our businesses have been the workforce, especially when they are closing down and then for two weeks they can open up,” Molloy said.

“This on again off again type of protocol, you can’t run a business like that. Employees cant be going to unemployment for two weeks and then going back to work. It just doesn’t work,” Thomason explained.  Both agree that this shouldn’t only last for the current two week period.

After seeing the additional two week buffer given to Jackson County, Thomason hopes it marks a permanent change to the governor’s risk level system.

“What she did there, I am in favor of because it’s given us a two week cushion. But on the other hand, its not enough… So the governor needs to just say that at this time, let’s move everyone in the state, as far as the restaurant and hospitality industry, move them into the High risk category,” he said.

The change goes into effect on Friday for Josephine County and lasts two weeks, until the next risk level assessment from the state.

Grace Smith is co-anchor for NBC5 News at 6. The Chicago native is a recent graduate of University of Miami with a Communication Honors degree specializing in Broadcast Journalism. She minored in Creative Writing and focused her senior thesis on social media usage and engagement. During her time at the University of Miami, she anchored multiple award-winning student television programs, covering everything from music festivals to the Super Bowl. Though she loved Miami's beaches, she's thrilled to be in the Pacific Northwest where she can experience all four seasons and have a real Christmas tree! When she’s not at work, you can find Grace glued to any television showing live sports (especially if it's the Chicago Bears) or attempting a new recipe as she learns to cook.
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