Update: Linn County’s COVID risk level drops

Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday that 12 counties improved in risk level, with 10 including Linn County, improving from Extreme Risk,, for the first time since November, starting Feb.12.

Effective Feb. 12 through Feb. 25, 14 counties will be in the Extreme Risk level, 11 at High Risk, three at Moderate Risk and eight at Lower Risk.

Under high risk, indoor dining is allowed and outdoor maximum gathering allowances are increased from 50 to 75 and those indoors are allowed up to

25% maximum occupancy or 50 people, whichever is smaller

“Thanks to Oregonians who have stepped up and made smart choices, we have made incredible progress in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives in Oregon,” Brown opened. “This week we will see 10 counties move out of Extreme Risk, including the Portland tri-county area, for the first time since November. This is welcome news, as we’ll start to see more businesses open up and Oregonians being able to get out a bit more.”

Safety measures like continuing to wear masks, keeping physical distance and avoiding indoor gatherings are helping to keep case rates low, the OHA said.

OHA examines and publishes county data weekly. County risk levels are reassigned every two weeks. The first week’s data provide a “warning week” to prepare counties for potential risk level changes. The next assignment of risk levels will be announced Feb. 23 and take effect Feb. 26.

Updates to warning week data and county risk levels are posted to coronavirus.oregon.gov. 

Linn County’s reported COVID-19 case numbers have dropped following the early-winter surge that put the county in the Extreme Risk category. According to OHA reports, Linn County had an average of 13 cases over Feb. 3-9 and had 3,433 cumulative cases and 51 deaths blamed on COVID as of Feb. 9.

Oregon reached its 2,000th fatality Friday, Feb. 5, with the deaths of a 67-year-old Hood River County woman and a 90-year-old Yamhill County woman.

Linn County has dropped from 263 confirmed and presumptive cases recorded over the 10-day span of Jan. 10-23, to 199 from Jan. 17-30. The latest updated numbers were not available as The New Era went to press this week, but numbers for both Sweet Home and Lebanon were significantly down from mid-January, despite a slight upsurge.

If the county can escape the Extreme Risk category, it will open opportunities for now-restricted businesses, such as restaurants, as well as student athletes (see page 16).

Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen and Governor Kate Brown provided an update on COVID-19 in Oregon Friday, Feb. 5, that included new information on who is eligible to get a vaccination and where they will be available.

Also on Friday the OHA reported that Oregon had surpassed 2,000 deaths associated with the coronavirus.

In a news conference Friday, Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen and Governor Kate Brown announced that they expect to have vaccinated Oregonians age 65 and older who want a vaccine by early April, a month sooner than we previously estimated, due to an increase in federal allocation of vaccine doses.

Health officials expect to be able to vaccinate front-line workers and people with chronic conditions by early April.

Oregonians 80 and older became eligible for vaccinations Monday, Feb. 8, and the OHA predicted “some frustration due to the limited supply.” The OHA is introducing new web tools and staffed-up 211 lines (supported by the Oregon National Guard) that will connect residents to vaccine information.

In Linn County, vaccination information is available at http://www.linncountyhealth.org/ph/page/covid-19-vaccines-information.

Linn County is providing vaccinations at the Linn County Expo Center, 3700 Knox Butte Road, Albany. Appointments are required, and can be made at that website.

Appointments are full for this week, according to the county, and vaccinations will be limited to seniors 80 and over, childcare providers and early learning or K-12 educators and school staff. Would-be

The OHA said that “starting soon,” some seniors will be able to get vaccinations at some retail pharmacies.

Seniors can also get vaccine information by texting ORCOVID to 898211 to get text/SMS updates about vaccination clinics (available in English and Spanish). Seniors can also email [email protected].

If you can’t get your COVID-19 vaccine question answered on the website, by text, or by email, you can call 211 or 1-866-698-6155, which is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, including holidays. Wait times may be long due to high call volumes.