After a significant spike in COVID-19 cases, nine Oregon counties will begin a two-week pause of social activities on Nov. 11. Five counties were announced on Friday and four more counties were added to the list today. Counties with a case rate above 200 per 100,000 people over a two-week period, or more than 60 cases over a two-week period for counties with less than 30,000 people have been placed on the pause. We must all work together to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Revised “Pause” Guidance has been released to include the four additional counties the Governor added to the “Pause” list today. The guidance is located here.
The two-week pause measures include:
Urging all businesses to mandate work from home to the greatest extent possible.
Pausing long-term care facility visits that take place indoors to protect staff and residents.
Reducing maximum restaurant capacity to 50 people (including customers and staff) for indoor dining, with a maximum party size of six. Continuing to encourage outdoor dining and take out.
Reducing the maximum capacity of other indoor activities to 50 people (includes gyms, fitness organizations/studios, bowling alleys, ice rinks, indoor sports, pools and museums).
Limiting social gatherings to your household, or no more than six people total if the gathering includes those from outside your household. Reducing the frequency of those social gatherings (significantly in a two-week period) and keeping the same six people in your social gathering circle.
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:
Indoor entertainment facilities
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
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.
The Malheur Local Community Advisory Council (LCAC) is happy to support community organizations in need of a thermometer to comply with state and federal COVID-19 regulations for continuation of services. Eligible organizations will receive Non-Contact Infrared Thermometers. Thermometers will be allocated based on organization type and need. There is a limited supply, so please be thoughtful if requesting more than 5 thermometers. Priority will be given to organizations serving EOCCO (Medicaid) members who live in Malheur County.
To request free thermometers from the Malheur LCAC, complete this form.
Please follow these brief instructions to determine eligibility and to receive your thermometers. Eligible organizations include:
Community Based Organization (CBO)
State or federal funded entity
Grant funded organization
Please complete the bottom portion of the form and email to Jesse Sandoval firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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:
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.
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.
As part of its planned guidance and metrics review process, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) is releasing an update to the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance, including updated metrics for returning to in-person instruction. The metrics are based on the latest COVID-19 studies and data, align to CDC recommendations and help Oregon meet its priority to return students to in-person instruction.
What this means for Malheur County is that as we prioritize getting students back into school in person, we have to prioritize our efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We need far more testing to improve the test positivity rate and to identify asymptomatic infections. We need everyone to follow the CDC recommendations that we know reduce the risk. If you have been in contact with someone who is sick or has tested positive, please stay home during quarantine. Answer the call from contact tracers. Avoid large gatherings. Wash your hands. Wear a mask over your mouth and nose anytime you are around people you don’t live with.
More from the Oregon Department of Education:
Since Oregon’s metrics were originally issued in August, more data has become available from school districts across the country. ODE worked with the Oregon Health Authority to establish when students can return to the classroom while still mitigating the risk of COVID-19 spread.
A key lesson from the review of national school data is that Oregon school districts can help protect student and staff health and well-being during in-person instruction when community spread is sufficiently low and when school districts strictly adhere to the health and safety protocols now in place in Oregon.
“Today we are sharing scheduled updates to our metrics for schools. Guided by data, these metrics offer an intentional and measured approach to returning to in-person instruction while recognizing the importance of meeting our kids’ academic needs—and allow for in-person instruction in places of our state where the risk of COVID-19 is lower. They also set a North Star for the rest of the state to work toward,” said ODE Director Colt Gill. “We all know that in-person instruction provides our children and families with more than access to an equitable education. Schools are a center of services to students and families, offering nutritious meals, access to social-emotional and mental health supports, as well as physical health services.”
Key changes to the metrics include:
A clear set of reachable targets for communities to strive for, with a North Star of returning Oregon students to in-person instruction.
Acknowledgement that Oregon’s Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance’s strong public health protocols in structured settings like schools, can greatly reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Additional time for schools to transition between in-person and distance learning models.
Increased access to in-person instruction at the elementary level.
A two Week “Look Back” at the Metrics Data rather than one week at a time over a three week period.
Removes State Positivity Rate in favor of county positivity rates.
ODE and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) were among the very first states to create metrics for returning to in-person instruction in early August. At that time they were based in large part on successes seen in other countries, as school was not in session in the U.S. Later, exceptions were added to make a return to in-person instruction possible for more students, where there was lower risk of COVID-19 transmission. When the metrics were first released, further review was announced, and now with additional studies and data on-hand the metrics are being revised to permit more in-person instruction while continuing to ensure that local conditions guide the process. As we learn more about the progression of COVID-19 in Oregon, the effectiveness of future vaccines and other mitigation efforts, and gain more information about the transmission of COVID-19 in structured settings like schools, ODE and OHA are committed to reviewing the metrics again in the coming weeks.
The metrics updates take effect immediately and, based on this week’s data points, potentially allow close to 130,000 students to return to some in-person instruction. The guidance recommends that schools consider both equity and a methodical and cautious approach at the beginning that return a portion of the school population first and then add more students on-site over time. This will allow schools to build new safety routines, stabilize cohorts, and avoid sudden, disruptive transitions back to Comprehensive Distance Learning due to quarantine or isolation.
Schools are structured settings where we can reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission through key practices. Oregon’s Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance requires schools to comply with specific guidelines on:
Cleaning and disinfecting
Airflow and ventilation
And, effective screening, and responses to cases with quick access to testing and implementing isolation and quarantining
“These metrics depend on the public doing its part to reduce Oregon’s case rates so that all of our children can return to in-person instruction,” Gill said. “Oregonians can reduce spread and send our kids back to school by wearing a face covering, maintaining distance, washing hands frequently, and avoiding group gatherings.”
Other changes to the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance include:
Aligning with the most recent face covering requirements from Oregon Health Authority (Pages 32-35).
On October 27, 2020, OHA began sharing data related to its statewide COVID-19 wastewater monitoring project. The data shows where the virus is detected in small- to medium-sized communities around the state. The data will be placed on a map with explanatory text on how to interpret it. The data will be updated weekly.
Ontario, Oregon is one of the communities tested. So far, the data shows that COVID-19 was detected from samples taken September 13 and September 20, 2020. No other sample dates were reported for Ontario at this time.
Currently there are 29 communities participating on the project. The monitoring serves as an “early warning” system to tell us if COVID-19 is spreading silently in communities. OHA launched this project in the early fall with funding from the CDC. The project is funded for 30 months
For more information please contact OHA’s principal investigators on this project: