Between November and March, there’s no point in checking the weather in Oregon. Rain, some more rain, maybe snow, and a forecasted sunny day that we all know will end up being rainy, is the summary of winter weather here.
And while it might feel like this weather/pandemic-forced house arrest might never end, spring and freedom are rapidly approaching. With full vaccination still months away for most of us, though, there is still a risk of COVID exposure even when you are outside.
Lane County will move down to High Risk level from Extreme Risk on Feb. 26, which means limited indoor dining will resume as well as increased capacity for indoor fitness establishments. Lane County’s Senior Public Health Officer Dr. Patrick Luedtke encourages outside activities and says that as long as you follow the typical COVID guidelines, like wearing a mask and social distancing, outdoor adventures or destinations in Lane County and elsewhere are totally fine.
“Outdoor activities with small groups, especially limited to your household, we promote those. We want people to get out and enjoy nature,” Luedtke says.
Luedtke stresses that if you do plan an outdoor activity with someone outside of your household, traveling to and from the destination is often a forgotten component. Traveling in a car with someone outside of your household is an easy way to pass the virus from one household to the next.
Andy Vobora of Travel Lane County notes that Lane County is the size of Connecticut — which leaves plenty of room for activities six feet apart from others. Earlier this year Travel Lane County listed its “52 Adventures to Try This Year” on the EugeneCascadesCoast.org website, which includes destinations throughout the county that are mostly free.
If you’re sick of your dinner looking and tasting nothing like the Food Network says it’s supposed to, you can also check out the site’s Eat & Drink page for updates on COVID-compliant restaurants throughout the region.
Additionally, the Willamette Valley Visitors Association website provides updates on restaurants and wineries in the Willamette Valley. Dawnielle Tehama, the association’s executive director, mentions that February is truffle month here in Oregon.
“Truffle hunting is really a socially distanced situation whether you’re booking an experience and doing a one-on-one guided tour, or, if you’re familiar enough, to come out to the valley and look for truffles yourself,” Tehama says.
The Oregon Truffle Festival, which usually takes place in Eugene and throughout Willamette Valley, will now host virtual truffle workshops, cooking classes and even a truffle dog training class. The festival’s website features an event calendar in addition to a Fresh Truffle Marketplace that offers local truffle products.
Outdoor adventures, wine tasting and truffle hunting will all become even safer as more Oregonians are vaccinated in the coming months. With that being said, Luedtke reiterated that while a vaccine will most likely protect you from the disease, you can still pass the virus to others. In addition, the vaccine is 95 percent effective, which means 1 out of 20 people can still get very sick.
“Don’t assume you’re bulletproof after you’ve gotten the two doses,” Luedtke says. “Just today [Feb. 12], Oregon Health Authority made the announcement of the first four cases of vaccinated individuals testing positive for COVID-19. Two of those four were in Lane County.”
For additional information on Lane County travel visit EugeneCascadesCoast.com; for wineries visit OregonWineCountry.org; and for truffles go to OregonTruffleFestival.org.