Restaurants urge changes in Covid metrics

By Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association,

The framework for mitigating Covid risk in Oregon across a variety of industries has changed once again with newly established statewide hospitalization metrics among other factors defining Oregon’s new ‘Extreme Risk’ category. As a result, all Oregon counties for the first time in many months will once again have access to indoor dining operations.

“The news this week is bittersweet,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “While five counties moved down in risk (Grant, Malheur, Umatilla, Coos, and Curry), six moved up in risk (Clackamas, Deschutes, Klamath, Linn, Multnomah, and Tillamook) which means moving down from 50% to the dreaded 25% indoor capacity restriction starting Friday, April 9. Anything less than 50% capacity poses ongoing survival challenges for our small businesses.”

In a press release issued by Governor Brown’s office, Oregon’s new extreme risk category includes a new statewide metric: Covid-19 positive patients occupying 300 hospital beds or more, and a 15% increase in the seven-day average over the previous week. As of April 6, Covid-19 related hospitalizations totaled 163 in Oregon.

“We are past due in developing a hospitalization metric as the central tool to determine all county risk levels,” said Brandt. “Over 2 million vaccine doses have been administered in Oregon. The risk associated with each Covid case diminishes with each vaccination and our stringent risk categories have not changed since they were implemented to mitigate the severity of Oregon’s winter surge.”

Concern regarding variants have been commonly cited by health officials as the reason for ongoing economic restrictions as the majority of other states move well past Oregon’s reopening status. According to recent comments by Dr. Dean Sidelinger, initial results show all vaccines to be effective in preventing serious Covid illness even if the virus is still contracted and results in a documented case.

“As we learn about the effectiveness of vaccines in protecting Oregonians against serious illness caused by variants, we should use that crucial information to change the crippling restrictions still being lived out by too many Oregonians,” said Brandt. “After reviewing all the facts, any reasonable person would conclude the vaccines are effective at keeping Oregonians out of the hospital and as a result, our risk metrics and widespread economic restrictions should change accordingly.”

ORLA continues to call for a statewide indoor restaurant capacity of at least 50% including an adoption of physical distancing standards between parties that align with international health guidelines (1 meter or 3.2 feet).

For more information on the efforts of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association please visit OregonRLA.org.