As COVID-19 Cases Spike, Stay Home Order Returns to Umatilla County

A reinstated stay-at-home order commanded by Gov. Kate Brown took effect on Friday, July 31, in Umatilla County, making it the first Oregon county to return to “baseline stay home” status.  

“After weeks of trying other measures to get the disease under control, our only option is to temporarily close certain businesses and other community amenities,” Brown said in a July 30 statement.” I am hopeful that these measures will help the community control the spread of COVID-19 quickly.” 

Under the reinstated order, Umatilla County restaurants are required to move back to takeout and delivery service only at restaurants and bars. Gyms, malls, venues, indoor and outdoor entertainment facilities, and “personal service businesses” also must close.  

Brown’s order comes after Umatilla County’s rate of cases increased past the entire state of Arizona’s earlier this month. As the governor’s office reported, the county has 234 cases per 10,000 people and has a weekly test positivity rate of 23 percent. The county reported an average of 51 new cases per day for the past two weeks, and 45 percent of cases in the last week are sporadic ones that cannot be traced back to a known source.  

Oregon Health Authority assigned seven case investigation contact tracers to Umatilla County starting July 26.   

Morrow County, which neighbors Umatilla, was forced back to Phase One of the state’s re-opening plan. Morrow County is reported to have 213 cases per 10,000 people – a higher positive rate than Umatilla, but has seven new cases per day on average, considerably lower than Umatilla.  

By Cara Nixon