New Responses to COVID-19 FAQ

In response to recent questions, please read and share the following COVID-19 information from the Malheur County Health Department (MCHD).

  • Malheur County has entered Phase 2 of Reopening Oregon today. Find new guidance here. More from the Governor’s Office at A few changes that come with Phase 2:
    • Expanded gatherings: limit of 50 indoors, 100 outdoors
      • Applies to pools, backyard weddings, recreational sports, etc.
      • Gathering limits have never been applicable to some services and sectors, including workplaces, banks, schools, government, grocery stores, and retail.
    • Specific sectors (restaurants, gyms, theaters, movie theaters, places of worship) with the capacity to allow physical distancing can have up to 250 people gathered
      • COVID-19 occupancy is the ability to physically distance people not in the same party at a minimum of 6 feet, not to exceed occupancy limit, up to 250 people.
    • Bowling, Pool, Arcades, Batting Cages, and Mini Golf can open following specific guidance.
    • Restaurant curfew extended to midnight; can increase footprint for table space with outdoor space; and allow partitions to curb physical distancing in booths.
    • Limited return to play for non-contact sports, including sports courts.
    • Swimming pools and spas can open following guidelines.
    • Limited return to work, while remote work still recommended.
  • Malheur County has complied with the Governor’s orders, while also moving as swiftly as possible under those orders to reopen. Our Reopening Plan for Phase 1 was submitted ahead of request and modified to answer questions from the State promptly and ensure we could enter Phase 1 as quickly as any other county. The letter to request moving to Phase 2 was also accepted and approved as quickly as possible. Staff from across multiple Malheur County departments are working hard to both meet the criteria set by the State and to reopen our economy and public life. We have done nothing to keep the county closed beyond the Governor’s orders.
  • MCHD case investigators are focused on containing the spread of known cases by asking those who have been at high risk of exposure to stay at home for two weeks. As part of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, certain employers must provide two weeks paid sick leave if an employee is quarantined, and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. We need the public, employees, and employers to follow the instructions of the contact tracers to prevent outbreak. More on MCHD contact tracing plan can be found here.
  • As we reopen more of public life and business, it is actually more work for public health to identify positive cases, isolate those people, trace their contacts, and quarantine those at highest risk to prevent spread. The state estimates 20 hours of contact tracing per case. This containment strategy is why testing is so important and required as part of the reopening plan. If we don’t know who has the virus, we don’t know how to stop an outbreak and risk of serious illness or death to the most vulnerable. Find out more on upcoming drive-up test sites in Ontario, Vale, and Nyssa and encourage those eligible to be tested.
  • We need to face this crisis together. Common values in Malheur County include caring about other people, resilience through hardship, and commitment to protecting those who are most vulnerable. You can do this best in five ways:
    • Screen your household daily for symptoms. Call your health care provider to ask for a test if you do have symptoms.
    • Wash your hands. The coronavirus can live for hours to days on various surfaces and it is by touching those surfaces and then touching your face (or mask) that the virus can infect you. Frequent hand washing has been proven many times over decades to reduce respiratory illnesses. Also disinfect frequently used surfaces.
    • Keep 6′ physical distance between yourself and people who are not in your household. Think of the distance of an adult bicycle and keep that space between you and others at all times outside of your household. If you do not keep that distance and especially if both people are not wearing face coverings, it is better to presume you could have COVID-19 and are able to infect others before you show symptoms.
    • Wear a face covering when you are outside of your home and can not guarantee that you can keep 6′ distance from all others outside of your household. A face covering is one of the best prevention measures we have to reduce the spread of the virus from asymptomatic people who can spread the virus through their mouth or nose without knowing it. Wearing a face covering shows that you support small businesses and want them to stay open. It shows that you care for the most vulnerable in our community and want to keep them safe. It shows that you will do your part in solidarity with your community to get this virus out of Malheur County! Find local sources for face coverings here.
    • Stay positive and ask for help. With so much misinformation, fear, and blame going around, it can be easy to focus on the negative or feel overwhelmed. Remember that we are all doing the best we can with what we have. By showing your support through the prevention strategies above and sharing only valid, reputable news sources, you are making us stronger as a community through this difficult time. Ask your neighbors how they are doing and offer to help those who have young children, are elderly, or have chronic health conditions. Ask for help when you need it and keep in touch with your primary and mental health providers. More information on telehealth opportunities here and more on daily life and coping here.

One thought on “New Responses to COVID-19 FAQ

  1. I am glad that we are doing contact tracing. There is a high percentage of a-symptomatic people that have Covid-19. Is Malheur County ever going to randomly test these people? I think we would see much higher numbers. I am very concerned with the little bit that I do go out, I wear a mask and use gloves and I am in the minority. People are thinking the virus is gone and they are not being careful. They do not seem to realize that they are putting those of us who are vulnerable at risk.

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