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Due to rise in COVID-19 cases, Eastern Oregon's Malheur County goes back to Phase 1 next week

Over the past two weeks, the county has had a test positivity rate of 26%, which is far above the state average of approximately 5.8% for the last two weeks.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday announced Malheur County will be moved back to Phase 1 of reopening, beginning Monday, Aug. 17. The county is currently in Phase 2.

Brown said the decision was made to try to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the Eastern Oregon county.

“Over the past month, COVID-19 cases in Malheur County have risen so much that restrictions must be put back in place or we risk further illnesses and death in the region,” she said. “I know this change is difficult, but immediate action is necessary in order to reduce the spread of the disease and protect all those who call Malheur County home.”

According to the governor’s office, the spread of the coronavirus in the county has led to the following alarming statistics:

  • Malheur County has a case rate of 266 cases per 10,000 people—the third highest in the state.
  • Over the past two weeks, the county has had a test positivity rate of 26%, which is far above the state average of approximately 5.8% for the last two weeks.
  • The county has reported an average of 15 cases per day over the past two weeks.
  • Over the past week, 55% of new cases were sporadic cases that could not be traced back to a known source.
  • One larger long-term care facility outbreak (23 cases) and a few small workplace outbreaks have been reported.

RELATED: Here are the 80 active COVID-19 workplace outbreaks in Oregon

Malheur County will remain in Phase 1 for at least 21 days.

In Phase 1, recreational sports, swimming pools, and events and venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys, and arcades remain closed. Non-essential local travel is allowed. Personal services businesses are allowed to operate with health and safety measures in place. Restaurants and bars are open for dine-in service until 10 p.m. with health and safety measures in place. Indoor social gatherings remain capped at 10 people as long as physical distancing is maintained, while other gatherings are limited to 50 indoors and 50 outdoors. This means that indoor gatherings, including faith-based, civic, and cultural gatherings are limited to 50 indoors and 50 outdoors.

Malheur County is the third county Brown has moved back in the state’s reopening plan due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19. Last month, Umatilla County was shifted back to stay-home and Morrow County was moved back to Phase 1.