As of Friday August 21, life in Umatilla County will get a little easier, as Oregon officials have 'approved' the county moving back up again, but not where they were.

The county was slammed to the basement July 31 after health officials claimed a spike in cases. Umatilla had been in Phase 2, and was prodded to drop back on it's own because health officials claimed cases were rising. Unlike Union County (LaGrande) who voluntarily dropped from 2 to 1, Umatilla County Commissioners resisted, saying they would only enforce Phase 2 state requirements.

Then the weekend before the shutdown, teams of Oregon State University Contact Tracers suddenly began showing up in Hermiston, and claimed they'd found 41 cases from over 470 tests they'd performed. This apparently prompted Gov. Kate Brown to issue the demotion four days later.

It was noted by many that her dropping the county to what's called "baseline" (Oregon's version of lockdown) was announced late on Thursday night July 31, and went into effect Friday July 31st.  Many sources in the County firmly believe the move was in reprisal for the Commissioners refusing to move backwards on their own. The timing of the dropback was found to be very curious, according to our sources in the county.

It was the first time we are aware of that any county in our region was taken backwards two steps.

Nonetheless, Phase One, which will begin tomorrow, means the following will re open:

limited reopening of personal services such as salons and barbers, gyms, and malls, and restaurants and bars open for in-person service. Those services must close at 10PM. Indoor social get-togethers are capped at 10 people with physical distancing. Cultural, civic, and faith gatherings are limited to 50 people with physical distancing for indoors or outdoors.

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