Indoor dining could shut down by end of April in Salem as Covid hospitalizations rise

Oregon’s Covid hospitalizations have climbed in April after falling from a late fall peak. (Screenshot from Oregon Health Authority website on April 23, 2021)

Gov. Kate Brown said Oregon counties with higher rates of Covid spread could see new restrictions on April 30 as the number of Oregonians hospitalized with the virus continues to grow.

Both Marion and Polk counties this week had enough new cases of Covid to qualify for the state’s “extreme risk” category as transmission of the virus has climbed in recent weeks. But Brown earlier this month said she wouldn’t impose new restrictions on “extreme risk” counties until more Oregonians were hospitalized with Covid.

Under the new criteria, there must be at least 300 Covid-positive patients occupying hospital beds across the state. There must also be a 15% increase in the seven-day hospitalization average over the last week. 

Brown on Friday said Oregon is poised to hit those targets early next week. That would mean indoor dining would again shut down in Marion and Polk counties, and indoor capacity for gyms and entertainment facilities would be cut to a maximum of six people in larger facilities, or one customer and one employee in smaller ones. A full list of restrictions is here.

Currently, 283 Oregonians are hospitalized with Covid, including 54 in the mid-Willamette Valley, according to Oregon Health Authority data. That’s up from 102 Covid-positive patients hospitalized on March 24, though still lower than the statewide peak of 584 people hospitalized on Nov. 30 during the fall and winter surge.

Health officials cautioned Friday that the presence of more contagious variants of the virus is resulting in younger, healthier people falling seriously ill.

Over the past few weeks, we are caring for more patients with COVID in our ICU, those who are sicker, younger, and without underlying medical conditions,” said Dr. Renee Edwards, chief medical officer at Oregon Health and Science University.

-Rachel Alexander