Do you need health insurance?

Oregon Health Authority : Contact Us : Oregon Health Plan : State of Oregon

Many Oregonians who are uninsured may qualify for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) or for help paying for coverage through the Marketplace. Oregon’s Marketplace open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 and is the only time of year many people can buy private health insurance.

In 2020, more than seven in 10 Oregonians who chose plans through got financial help for monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Due to job losses during the pandemic, we estimate thousands of Oregonians may be newly eligible for help paying for health insurance. Want help? Experts are available to offer free assistance remotely and in person by appointment following COVID-19 safety protocols. Find local help on

Remember, you must apply and enroll by Dec. 15 to get coverage for 2021 through the Marketplace. You can apply for the Oregon Health Plan at at any time. To find out what coverage and savings are available to you, visit

More on Two-Week Statewide Freeze

From November 18 to December 2, Oregon will be in a statewide Two-Week Freeze to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Oregon. These risk reduction measures are critical in limiting the spread of COVID-19, reducing risk in communities more vulnerable to serious illness and death, and helping conserve hospital capacity so that all Oregonians can continue to have access to quality care.

Statewide Two-Week Freeze to Stop Rapid Spread of COVID-19

New measures take effect Wednesday, Nov. 18, in all Oregon counties 

Governor Kate Brown today announced a statewide Two-Week Freeze, implementing new measures to limit gatherings and stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Oregon. The Two-Week Freeze measures will be in effect from Nov. 18 through Dec. 2, statewide. These risk reduction measures are critical in limiting the spread of COVID-19, reducing risk in communities more vulnerable to serious illness and death, and helping conserve hospital capacity so that all Oregonians can continue to have access to quality care.

“Since I announced a Two-Week Pause one week ago, we are seeing an alarming spike in both cases and hospitalizations,” said Governor Brown. “The virus is spreading in the community and, every day, it is infecting more and more Oregonians. This situation is dangerous and our hospitals have been sounding the alarms. If we want to give Oregon a fighting chance, we must take further measures to flatten the curve and save lives. I know this is hard, and we are weary. But, we are trying to stop this ferocious virus from quickly spreading far and wide. And in Oregon, we actually can do this.

“Given the data and modeling we are seeing, my public health experts tell me that some counties will need longer to flatten the curve. So I want to be very clear that there are some COVID-19 hotspot counties that will likely need to stay in the Freeze for much longer than two weeks. Multnomah County, for example, will be in this Freeze for at least four weeks. Our actions right now, no matter where in the state you live, are critical.”

The Two-Week Freeze measures include:

  • Limiting social get-togethers (indoors and outdoors) to no more than six people, total, from no more than two households.
  • Limiting faith-based organizations to a maximum of 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors.
  • Limiting eating and drinking establishments to take-out and delivery only.
  • Closing gyms and fitness organizations.
  • Closing indoor recreational facilities, museums, indoor entertainment activities, and indoor pools and sports courts.
  • Closing zoos, gardens, aquariums, outdoor entertainment activities, and outdoor pools.
  • Limiting grocery stores and pharmacies to a maximum of 75% capacity and encouraging curbside pickup.
  • Limiting retail stores and retail malls (indoor and outdoor) to a maximum of 75% capacity and encouraging curbside pickup.
  • Closing venues (that host or facilitate indoor or outdoor events).
  • Requiring all businesses to mandate work-from-home to the greatest extent possible and closing offices to the public.
  • Prohibiting indoor visiting in long-term care facilities (outdoor visitation permitted for supporting quality of life).

The Two-Week Freeze does not apply to or change current health and safety protocols for personal services (such as barber shops, hair salons, and non-medical massage therapy), congregate homeless sheltering, outdoor recreation and sports, youth programs, childcare, K-12 schools, K-12 sports currently allowed, current Division 1 and professional athletics exemptions, and higher education — all of which can continue operating under previous guidance issued by the Oregon Health Authority.

For all other permitted activities listed above, the Oregon Health Authority will be issuing sector-specific guidance within the next week. Sectors without specific prohibitions or guidance must operate under this general employer guidance.

Governor Brown’s full remarks are available here. Press release here.

A link to Governor Brown’s press conference is available here.

Free COVID-19 Testing for All: Tuesday, Nov 17

We need more COVID-19 testing to improve the test positivity rate and active infections. By getting tested, you help us 1) Safely reopen schools for kids, 2) Keep businesses open, and 3) Save lives.

Get tested! Free, easy, no-pain COVID-19 testing is available at the Malheur County Fairgrounds (795 NW 9th St, Ontario, OR 97914) on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. No symptoms required. No insurance needed. No residency requirements.

Register HERE.

Please share the Facebook event also.

Happy Veterans Day!

Saint John Bosco Catholic Church – Veterans Day 2017 – Thank-you to all of  our Veterans.

Veterans, we are not only thankful to you, but also motivated by you. You have shown us how to be brave and honest. We can learn to sacrifice for our community and country during difficult times through your example. Thank you, Veterans!

Many Veterans are at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease. Please wear your mask, keep your distance, avoid large gatherings, and get tested to protect our Veterans and those who are most vulnerable. We should care for them as they care for us.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – JFK

Stop the spread: Considerations for gatherings

illustration of a person and child wearing masks standing six feet apart from a young woman wearing a mask

Malheur County Health Department has linked many COVID-19 cases recently to social gatherings. Malheur County continues to hold the state’s worst case rate and test positivity and tomorrow will be put on Pause. With the COVID-19 situation getting worse in our county and in surrounding counties in both Idaho and Oregon, we need the public to help stop the spread in the following ways as recommended by the CDC. This guidance is relevant and applicable to every state in the USA.

illustration of people wearing masks and celebrating by getting food from a buffet

Assess the risks

  • In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.
  • If you decide to engage in public activities, continue to protect yourself by practicing everyday preventive actions.
  • Keep these items on hand when venturing out: a face mask, tissues, and a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Should you go out? Learn what factors to consider before you head out.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have had contact with someone with COVID-19.
  • If you are contacted by contact tracers, follow their instructions to protect you, your family, and your community. Stay home and away from others during quarantine, get tested, and monitor your health.
illustration of a woman wearing a mask arriving for a gathering

Considerations for Small Gatherings of Family and Friends

Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household (who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19) poses the lowest risk for spread. In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk. Organizers and attendees of larger events should consider the risk of virus spread based on event size (number of attendees and other factors) and take steps to reduce the possibility of infection, as outlined in the Considerations for Events and Gatherings.

There are several factors that contribute to the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 at small in-person gatherings. In combination, these factors will create various amounts of risk:

  • Community levels of COVID-19 – High or increasing levels of COVID-19 cases in the gathering location, as well as in the areas where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. Family and friends should consider the number of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the community where they plan to celebrate when deciding whether to host or attend a gathering.
  • Exposure during travel – Airports, bus stations, train stations, public transport, gas stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces.
  • Location of the gathering – Indoor gatherings, especially those with poor ventilation (for example, small enclosed spaces with no outside air), pose more risk than outdoor gatherings.
  • Duration of the gathering – Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings. Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more greatly increases the risk of becoming sick and requires a 14-day quarantine.
  • Number and crowding of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability of attendees from different households to stay 6 feet (2 arm lengths) apart, wear maskswash hands, and follow health rules.
    • During the Pause, Malheur County residents must limit gatherings to only household members or no more than 6 people total. Outside of the Pause, social get-togethers are limited to 10 people. Masks are required.
  • Behaviors of attendees prior to the gathering – Individuals who did not consistently adhere to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), mask wearinghandwashing, and other prevention behaviors pose more risk than those who consistently practiced these safety measures.
  • Behaviors of attendees during the gathering – Gatherings with more safety measures in place, such as mask wearingsocial distancing, and handwashing, pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented. Use of alcohol or drugs may alter judgment and make it more difficult to practice COVID-19 safety measures.
illustration of friends gathering outdoors wearing masks and six feet apart

The following people should not attend in-person gatherings

People at increased risk for severe illness
If you are an older adult or person with certain medical conditions who is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or live or work with someone at increased risk of severe illness, you should avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in your household.

illustration of a young family enjoying a virtual meal with an older couple

More CDC recommendations for holiday gatherings here.

Reopening Guidance — Specific Counties on Pause

Today, Governor Brown announced Malheur County is one of the counties “on pause” with the following guidance released by the Oregon Health Authority.

Effective Dates: November 11, 2020 – November 25, 2020

Applicability: This guidance applies to indoor social get-togethers and indoors spaces at the following settings, businesses, or locations to the extent they are permitted in Phase One or Phase Two, in Jackson, Malheur, Marion, Multnomah and Umatilla counties:

  • Aquariums
  • Bowling alleys
  • Fitness-related facilities
  • Indoor entertainment facilities
  • Indoor markets
  • Facilities where K-12 school sports are practiced or played
  • Facilities where recreational sports are practiced or played
  • Licensed swimming pools, licensed spa pools and sports courts
  • Museums
  • Restaurants/Bars/Breweries/Brewpubs/Wineries/Tasting Rooms/Distilleries
  • Skating rinks
  • Venues
Indoor social get-togethers
  • The maximum capacity for an indoor social get-together in Jackson, Malheur, Marion, Multnomah and Umatilla counties is 6 people indoors.
Persons in charge of the settings, businesses or locations listed above in Jackson, Malheur, Marion, Multnomah and Umatilla counties are required to:
  • Limit the capacity to a maximum of 50 people indoor, including staff, or the number of people based on a determination of capacity (square footage/occupancy), whichever is less. Capacity must be determined by using 35 square feet per person of usable space.
    • This capacity limit requirement does not apply to or change existing capacity limits for faith-based gatherings in Phase Two counties.
  • Limit parties to 6 people or fewer.
  • Prohibit the combining of different parties or individual guests that are not part of a party at shared seating situations. People in the same party seated at the same table do not have to be six (6) feet apart.
  • Follow the applicable OHA sector guidance for all other requirements.

This guidance supersedes any conflicting, less stringent guidance that is applicable to a particular sector, business or organization for the time that it is in effect.

Authority: Executive Order No. 20-27, paragraphs 9, 21, 24, and 26, ORS 431A.010, ORS 433.441, ORS 433.443.

Find a COVID-19 Testing Site

Everyone who has any symptoms of COVID-19 should get a test. Anyone who has spent time with a person who has COVID-19 should also get a test, even if they don’t show symptoms. Contact any testing site first to make sure testing is still occurring and if you meet their criteria.

If you have flu-like symptoms or have reason to think you might have COVID-19, let your healthcare provider know before you visit. This will help avoid exposing anyone else at the provider’s facility.

To find a testing site, use the COVID-19 Testing in Oregon Map or call 211.

Also, multiple testing sites are available in Idaho. More information about Saint Alphonsus testing here. More information about St. Luke’s testing here.

Many healthcare providers have NEW RAPID COVID-19 TESTS AVAILABLE. These tests will help make sure people who have COVID-19 can get the care and support they need. More testing will also help contact tracers reach out to people who may have been exposed to COVID-19, so they can stay home and keep their family and community safe.

The rapid tests are fast and almost always correct at showing if you have COVID-19 (your doctor may call this a “positive test”). However, it is common for the tests to miss COVID-19 (your doctor may call this a “false negative”) — and many people who get negative test results actually do have COVID-19. If you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, the best and safest thing to do is stay home for 14 days, or quarantine. If you need support while you are staying home, resources are available through the Quarantine Fund and the COVID-19 Temporary Paid Leave Program.

Testing is only one important way to stop the spread of COVID. It is still important for everyone to:

  • wear masks
  • avoid large groups
  • stay at least 6 feet apart, and spend time outside rather than
  • indoors with people outside your immediate family
    wash your hands often.

These are the best ways for us to keep ourselves and the ones we love safe. To find a testing site, click here or call 211.

Malheur County COVID-19 Data Update

Yesterday, Malheur County surpassed 2,000 COVID-19 cases. Our thoughts are with those who are sick, those who are caring for are ill, and those who have lost someone during this pandemic.

The Malheur County Health Department (MCHD) strives to share as much COVID-19 case information as possible on the COVID-19 Cases page of our website and the COVID-19 Resources page for links to additional data sources.

The data table shown above shows the data from the week of the first COVID-19 case in Malheur County through the end of October. A few notable metrics:

  • The “New Total” under the “Weekly” column shows the number of tests that are reported for any Malheur County residents. With a decreasing number of tests being done, the percentage of those tests that are positive is likely to be higher.
  • The “Weekly Positivity Rate” is more important to our current testing needs than the “Cumulative Positive Rate,” because 6.5% of the population of Malheur County has already tested positive and with more limited testing earlier in the pandemic, our rate over time is likely higher than what we could achieve currently with more tests available for more people. Also, the state is now counting new negative or positive tests if the previous test was more than 90 days ago. This should significantly help our positivity rate if more people are tested repeatedly.
  • To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, we need to know who is infected and isolate them and quarantine their contacts. This can not be done without testing. While increased testing may increase case numbers in the short term, it does reduce the spread of the virus when people know they are infected or exposed and follow guidance.
  • To help reduce the positive rate, more people need to be tested.

With so much data to evaluate, it’s important to keep in mind why the data is important. We need the public to be informed and know the current risk of COVID-19 around them to keep themselves and others safe. Everyone in Malheur County should follow these simple steps can save lives by to slowing the spread of COVID-19:

  • Follow the statewide requirement to wear a face covering when in indoor public spaces and outdoors when six feet of distance cannot be maintained.
  • Limit social gatherings to groups of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors.
  • Wash your hands often with running water and soap for 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes using your sleeve or a tissue, not your bare hand.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home and away from the rest of your household if you’re feeling sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Quarantine according to public health direction if you are in close contact with a known case.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched surfaces at home and at work, including your mobile devices.

MCHD officials also ask that the public stay informed and educated through trustworthy sources of information, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Safe + Strong Oregon

Nov 4 & 18: WIC Walk-In Wellness Days

Please share! Great opportunity for WIC participants and any Oregon residents who are pregnant or have a child under age 5.

Join us at the Malheur County Health Department for a walk-in day to get you and your child/children up to date on their wellness screenings. We are offering free weight and height measurements, iron checks, flu shots, immunizations and more.

Please wear a mask, limit number of family members as possible and do not attend if you are sick. Interested in the WIC program? Call us at (541) 889-7279 to schedule your WIC appointment!

More information on WIC here.