So. Oregon counties to move from moderate to lower risk level

MEDFORD, Ore.– Fat Irish kitchen & Pub owner, Jay Trost, said a step down is a major step forward for his Brookings business.

“It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is. There’s a lot of exciting factors, the biggest excitement is probably the mental factor,” said Trost.

Both Curry and Lake county are moving to the state’s least restrictive- lower risk category Friday.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, counties at that level can have more people sit at the same table indoors, from 6 to 8.

Also, maximum outdoor capacity will double from 150 to 300 people, and closing time is pushed from 11 pm to midnight, big news for Trost.

“It goes without saying, its one step further away from extreme,” he said.

Speaking of extreme, this is the tier Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Coos county are currently in.

However, covid cases in each of those counties have been on the decline the past 6 weeks.

Jackson County Public Health director, Dr. Jim Shames, said there are multiple reasons why this could be a lasting trend.

“The numbers are going down. We’re seeing fewer people with active cases every week, fewer people who are in the intensive care unit, and a decrease in mortality.”

He said despite a slow rollout, the best news is that the coronavirus vaccine is being distributed.

“I strongly recommend getting vaccinated when its your turn. The vaccine is safe, its remarkably effective, and I think its the most important tool we have right now.”

He knows people in the Rogue Valley want to get out of the extreme category.

He said it’s determined by three things: “What herd immunity looks like, how many people actually accept the vaccine, and what our timeline is, but I’m optimistic that this summer could look a lot different than last summer.”

Jackson County only recorded a 5.5% positivity rate over the past two weeks, but the amount of cases per 100,000 residents is still keeping the county in the extreme risk level.

Dr. Shames agreed with Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who said earlier this week that until the vaccine is widely accessible to Oregonians, the best way to stay safe is by continuing to abide by health guidelines like wearing masks and washing your hands often.

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