While, across the country, states and counties have been generally relaxing restrictions on youth sports and pool facilities, Oregon governor Kate Brown has returned 15 of the state’s 36 counties to “extreme risk” designation. This increase in restrictions will impact some of the state’s most active swimming areas, such as Portland, which falls primarily in Multnomah County. The heightened restrictions will affect almost 70% of the state’s population. The governor stated that the new restrictions will last between one and three weeks.
The tightened restrictions will impact some of the largest cities in the state, with the four biggest falling within the affected counties. Portland, Salem, Eugene, and Gresham were all impacted, as well as their suburbs. Roughly 14% of the state’s population resides in Portland alone.
In the state’s newest restrictions, gyms and pools are both placed in the same category. For indoor pools, a maximum of six swimmers will be allowed in the facility, with a limit of 45 minutes of time spent in the pool. These limitations come just days after the state announced that full-contact sports in indoor facilities could resume, citing their importance in the mental and physical health of the state’s youth. While the newest restrictions do not reverse this ruling, the limitations on facilities effectively prevent youth sports from returning to practice and competition.
While the governor said that it is expected that the “extreme risk” designation lasts between one and three weeks, the Oregon Health Authority requires counties to maintain a risk level for at least two weeks prior to a decrease. Per the Health Authority’s website, the Tuesday of the second week of restrictions, in this case, May 11th, is when the decision can be made to reduce the restriction level of a county.
In addition to its impact on pools and gyms, the raised restriction levels also limit patrons of movie theaters, bowling alleys, and other indoor recreation to a maximum of six. Indoor dining in both restaurants and bars will also be shut down, with outdoor dining being allowed to continue.
The tightened restrictions come as a result of a recent spike of cases in Oregon that have made the state one of two that have seen a growing number of residents diagnosed with Covid-19. Along with Missouri, Oregon has seen a large uptick in cases, with an increase of 30% in cases and 40% in hospitalizations over the past week. In both cases, numbers have nearly tripled since the state’s lows in early March. Over 30% of the state has been vaccinated at this point, only slightly behind the national vaccinated number which stands at 31.2%.
The state currently has 240 cases per 100,000 residents or roughly 10,000 cases.