Gov. Kate Brown and chief of staff Nik Blosser listen in during a phone call with Vice President Mike Pence and other governors on Monday, April 20. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
Daily life won’t change this year for locals in Marion and Polk counties as the region remains under Covid restrictions that prohibit indoor dining, going to the gym and limit social gatherings to six people.
Marion and Polk counties will remain under an “extreme risk” designation for Covid until at least the end of the end of the year, Gov. Kate Brown’s office announced Tuesday.
“We continue to see community spread across Oregon to the point that the majority of the state needs to continue with strict health and safety measures. Until we reduce the spread and have high participation in vaccination, all Oregonians need to follow the guidelines in place in their counties,” Brown said in a prepared statement.
Marion County now has a rate of 631 cases per 100,000 residents over the two weeks ending Dec. 12, according to the Oregon Health Authority, more than triple the threshold to fall into the “high risk” category under the guidelines.
Polk County has a rate of 401 cases per 100,100 residents over the two weeks ending on Dec. 12, according to OHA.
The two counties were first placed into modified restrictions along with most of the counties in the state on Nov. 25 following a “two-week pause” on most activities. Starting Dec. 18, 29 Oregon counties are considered under “extreme risk” of spreading Covid.
Other categories include “high risk,” “moderate risk,” and “low risk.” Brown will announce modified risk levels on Jan. 1, but Marion and Polk counties are unlikely to see loosened restrictions without drastically reducing case rates.
Under current rules, diners can eat outside, with a limit of 50 people at one restaurant, including employees, and no more than six per table.
People can continue attending religious services, but space is limited to 25% of the building’s capacity or 100 people, whichever is smaller.
This week Salem expects to receive its first shipment of a Covid vaccine that will go to Salem Health employees directly caring for Covid patients.
Oregon expects to finish vaccinating health care and emergency medical workers, as well as long-term care facility residents and employees by the end of January, OHA spokesman Jonathan Modie told Salem Reporter.
Then a broad group defined as “essential workers” are next in line for vaccination. The general public likely won’t have access to the vaccine until at least the spring of 2021.
Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]
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