County’s COVID appeal is granted

By on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

PENDLETON – Umatilla County Board of Commissioners Chairman George Murdock and local health officials filed an appeal with the state, asking that 74 positive COVID-19 tests be deleted from the county’s count for the two week period that ended Monday. He was notified Monday evening that his appeal had been approved.

The 74 cases that the state has agreed to remove include nine inmates and 65 cases that were acknowledged over the weekend, but occurred from June to January. Umatilla County Public Health officials state that the data entry errors that caused the backlog were from Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center.

“Clearly the tribal numbers are no reflection upon the current state of affairs in our county, which is obviously the reason for periodic assessments of progress,” Murdock wrote in his appeal.

He said that subtracting those 74 cases gives Umatilla County a two-week total of 157 cases which would make it eligible to be moved to high risk instead of its current extreme risk ranking. The rankings will be released by the state later this week.

“Not only do we now qualify, but this is essential to the survival of our local business community and the well-being of our schools,” Murdock wrote. “We understand that we must qualify to move down, but at the same time, when we do qualify then we believe it is imperative we be permitted to do so.”

Murdock said he was pleased with the ruling which was emailed to him from Leah Horner of the office of the governor, who is the director of Regional Solutions.

What does high risk mean?

Indoor social gatherings are limited to six people, outdoors to eight people.

Indoor dining is allowed with 25 percent occupancy or 50 people, whichever is smaller. Only six people per table. Outdoor dining may have 75 people and again six people per table. All establishments must close by 11 p.m. Takeout is still highly encouraged.

Indoor recreation and entertainment facilities can open with a maximum of 25 percent occupancy or 50 people, whichever is smaller.

Retail stores and shopping malls may increase their occupancy to 25 percent, with curbside pickup still encouraged.

Faith institution services are limited to 25 percent occupancy or 150 people, whichever is smaller. Outdoor services are limited to 200 people.

Remote work is still encouraged when possible.

Outdoor establishments are allowed a maximum of 75 people.

Visits to long-term care facilities are allowed.