Baker County should stay in the lowest risk category under the state’s COVID-19 guidelines through at least the second week of March, County Commissioner Mark Bennett said on Saturday, Feb. 20.
But it was a very near thing.
The county has been at the lowest risk level since Feb. 12. While the county is in that category, restaurants and bars can have indoor dining up to 50% of capacity, and the same limit applies to gyms and fitness centers, theaters and museums.
Risk levels for each of Oregon’s 36 counties for the next two-week period — Feb. 26 through March 11 — will be based on their COVID-19 statistics for the two-week period Feb. 7-20.
In Baker County, which the state deems medium-population, two figures are counted — the number of new cases, and the percentage of positive tests.
To qualify for the lower-risk category, the county must meet two thresholds — fewer than 30 new cases during the measurement period, and a positivity rate below 5%.
Bennett said on Saturday that the county’s positivity rate was about 3.9%.
But the number of new cases was close to the limit of 29. The four new cases reported on Friday, Feb. 19, pushed the total to 27 cases for the two-week period.
It all came down, then, to Saturday.
If the county had zero, one or two new cases that day, it remained below the limit.
The Saturday tally, Bennett said, was zero.
The very next day — the first day of the new two-week measurement period — Baker County had five new cases.
Gov. Kate Brown typically announces any changes to county risk levels on the Tuesday of the week that the changes take effect. Any changes are effective on Friday of that week — Feb. 26 in the current case.
Baker County’s rate of new infections has dropped substantially over the past five weeks.
Since recording 55 new cases for the seven-day period ending Jan. 15, the county has had weekly totals of 14, seven, 13, nine and 18.
The daily average for the past month has been the lowest in the county since October.
The daily average for previous months:
• November — 4.7/day
• December — 6.2/ day
• January — 3.4/day
• Feb. 1-21 — 2.2/day
Vaccine clinic planned Friday, Feb. 26
The county received 600 doses of the Moderna vaccine on Monday, Feb. 22 — 400 for first doses, and 200 for second doses.
With those doses, the county will have its second large vaccination clinic Friday, Feb. 26, at Baker High School, said Holly Kerns, a public information officer for the county.
Health Department employees are calling people 75 and older to schedule appointments both for Friday’s clinic and for people who are ready to receive their second and final dose.
The Health Department administered 315 doses during a clinic on Feb. 12.
As of Monday, a total of 672 Baker County residents were fully vaccinated — 4% of the county’s population of 16,800 — and 1,376 people had received their first dose — 8.2%.
If the county can administer all 600 doses this week, by Friday about 5.2% of residents will be fully vaccinated, and about 10.6% will have had their first dose.