Multnomah County seeks early easing of COVID-19 restrictions
Reported new COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations trended down Sunday, May 23, three days before Multnomah County hopes the Oregon Health Authority will ease restrictions after missing the first deadline to apply to be reclassified.
The health authority reported 334 new cases and four additional deaths on May 23. That compare to 509 new cases and five new deaths on Saturday, May 22. State health officials also reported there were 248 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday, which is 10 fewer than Saturday. There were 71 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit beds, a decrease of three.
In a related development, multiple news outlets reported that Multnomah County has requested the health authority reclassify it from "High Risk" to "Lower Risk" for the spread of COVID-19 on Wednesday, May 26. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced on May 11 that counties could request to be reclassified if 65% of residents 16 and older had received at least one vaccination and health officials submitted plans for closing any vaccination rate "equity gaps." Brown said Fridays are the deadline for making such requests, with approvals to be granted the following Fridays.
Multnomah County chose not to submit such a request on the first Friday, meaning it missed the chance to be reclassified on May 21. Five counties did so, including Washington County, and they all had their restrictions eased then.
Multnomah County submitted its equity plan on May 21. It also asked to be reclassified by May 26. Perhaps significantly, the Portland Trail Blazers will host their first playoff game at home the next day, and such a reclassifications would allow them to double in-person fan capacity.
Oregon Public Broadcasting is news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story on the issue can be found here.
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