Klamath Co. readies for partial reopening Friday

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – While Jackson and Josephine Co. stay in the extreme risk category, Klamath Co. got some good news Tuesday. Gov. Kate Brown has lowered the county’s risk level from extreme to high. This means the reigns are slightly loosened for Klamath Co. residents.

However, health officials told NBC5 News, despite the good news the fight against COVID-19 is far from over.

“I think what we’re seeing is sort of the end of that surge of cases that we saw through the holiday season,” said Valeree Lane from Klamath Co. Public Health.

Klamath Co. will go from the state’s extreme risk level to high on Friday. The loosened regulations that come with the change allow restaurants to open at 25% capacity or fewer than 50 people. whichever is less.

Rigoberto Cisneros owns Girasol Mexican Restaurant in Klamath Falls. While he and his crew have tried to stay positive during COVID-19; the news couldn’t have come at a better time.

“When we got the news we were ecstatic. We’re preparing now. We’re trying to get everybody on board now, we’re gonna have our meeting next we’re just really happy and thankful to be back at what we do,” said Cisneros.

He said the restaurant does take-out, but he can’t wait to see more of his customers’ faces.

“This is what we do. The big difference between being a take-out place like a taco shop [is] we’re a full service sit down where you can have your drink. It’s the connection we make with people,” said Cisneros.

The return of that human connection is something many others are hungering for. However, the county is warning people the change only lasts for two weeks. If there’s a spike of cases in the community, Klamath Co. could be back in the extreme category later this month.

“It’s important for us to remember that we have to continue to distance and be careful because there’s still a virus out there,” said Lane.

Not only is it easy to return to the extreme level, but it’s also easy to overwhelm the hospital. Sky Lakes Medical Center doesn’t want its team overwhelmed.

“Hospital staff are incredible! The nursing staff, the physicians have worked incredibly hard over a year. And they’re getting tired. Caring for covid patients is not easy. They are going to do a great job every time. But it’s beginning to wear on them,” said Tom

Again, the new risk levels go into effect Friday until then all extreme level rules are in place.

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