Baker County will move to the extreme risk level under state COVID-19 guidelines on Friday, April 30, and stay there for at least one week.
Fourteen other counties — there are 36 counties in Oregon — will also move to extreme risk on Friday.
Some of those counties, including Baker, would previously have qualified to move to extreme risk on April 23 based on their case counts and positivity rates during a two-week measuring period, April 3-17.
But in early April Gov. Kate Brown announced that no county would move to extreme risk so long as fewer than 300 people statewide were being treated for COVID-19 in a hospital, and the seven-day average number of hospitalizations didn't exceed 15%.
The state surpassed both of those thresholds this week, with 319 people hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment on Monday, and the seven-day average rising by 37%.
Baker County Commissioner Mark Bennett said state officials, which had been setting county risk levels on a two-week basis, will review the situation weekly for counties at extreme risk.
If hospitalization totals and rates decline below the threshold, those counties could drop to high risk after one week, Bennett said.
In a press release Tuesday morning, the governor announced that counties will remain at extreme risk for a maximum of three weeks.
Brown also announced that counties that reduce their case rates could potentially move to out of the extreme risk level starting May 7.
It's not clear how much Baker County would have to reduce its case numbers to qualify to move out of extreme risk.
Brown is also partnering with legislators on a $20 million emergency relief package to provide immediate aid to impacted businesses in Extreme Risk counties through the state’s commercial rent relief program.
“After conversations with legislative leaders, I am confident we can move quickly to bring relief to businesses and their employees in Extreme Risk counties," the governor said. "The vast majority of Oregon businesses have followed our health and safety guidance to protect Oregonians from COVID-19, even though doing so has come with an economic cost. This emergency aid will help businesses in Extreme Risk counties.”
In addition, Brown announced that outdoor capacity limits for bars, restaurants, and other sectors will be raised from 50 to 100 people in Extreme Risk counties, with health and safety measures, including physical distancing, in place.
“We know that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is lower outdoors," Brown said."I am urging all Oregonians, if you choose to gather with others, keep it outdoors. Indoor transmission is a key driver in the COVID-19 surge that is making renewed health and safety restrictions necessary.”