More than 300 COVID-19 patients are in Oregon hospitals, and the weekly average for hospitalizations rose 14.9%, while case counts continue to mount.
But the tenth of a percentage point below 15% is significant, because that was the benchmark Gov. Kate Brown set for determining whether indoor dining in restaurants should remain closed for another week.
Restaurants and bars in 15 counties, including Multnomah County, had to close indoor dining last Friday. This Friday they can open again, Brown announced early Tuesday evening.
The decision includes Portland.
To put it another way, no counties will be considered extreme risk because of hospitalizations did not continue to increase at as high a pace as last week, which is something of a remarkable turnaround, given the political cost the governor paid for such a short shutdown.
Restaurants were furious when she closed indoor dining. But Brown made the argument she was saving lives.
The reopening may also be a confusing indicator to Oregonians who are in the middle of fourth surge, even as everyone older than 16 now has a real opportunity to get vaccinated.
“Let me be clear: across the state, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are still high, and Oregon is not out of the woods yet,” Brown said in her statement on May 4.
There is some evidence Brown never expected to close indoor dining. When she added the benchmarks of 300 hospitalizations, some projections showed that COVID case counts would never reach that level.