Oregon Governor sets vaccination targets for state to reopen
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday announced statewide and county COVID-19 vaccination targets, with the hope of reopening the state's economy.
Most statewide coronavirus related restrictions will be lifted when 70% of Oregon's residents who are 16 years and older receive the first COVID-19 vaccine dose, Brown said. In addition, counties will be eligible to move into the “lower risk” category when 65% of the area's eligible population is vaccinated.
“We still have some work to do to reach our 70% goal, but I am confident we can get there in June and return Oregon to a sense of normalcy," Brown said. “So Oregon, this is our goal. We each play a part. If you have already been vaccinated, thank you. Now help a friend, family member or neighbor make an appointment.”
Currently more than 35% of Oregon's total population is fully vaccinated.
While Brown says safety measures, including county risk levels, will be removed if Oregon meets its vaccination target, the state “may continue” to require the use of masks and physical distancing.
Just last month, Brown tightened COVID-19 restrictions — moving 15 counties into the “extreme risk” category which bans indoor dining and significantly reduces gym and indoor entertainment capacities — due to increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates.
However, since then health officials say Oregon's COVID-19 situation has improved.
“(It) looks like we’ve crossed the tipping point of the fourth surge,” Brown said. “Our hospitalization rates have stabilized. Our infection rates are on a downward trajectory."
On Monday it was announced that the mass vaccination site at the Oregon Convention Center expects to close by mid-June.
The All4Oregon site, which was set up by four of the city’s major hospitals in a joint vaccination effort, has been running since Jan. 20. The site began offering self-scheduling and walk-in appointments for the first time last week, but organizers said a drop in volume made it clear that demand for a mass vaccination site is waning as shots become more widely available elsewhere.
Many retail pharmacies now offer walk-in appointments and health providers are shifting their focus to smaller neighborhood- and community-targeted vaccination efforts as supply begins to outstrip demand for the doses.
All4Oregon will offer stop offering first doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine on May 27 and will offer second doses only in June. It expects to close completely on June 19. The clinic only offers Pfizer.
In addition, a growing list of higher education institutions are requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for students and employees for the upcoming fall term.
This week, Western Oregon University and University of Oregon both announced plans to require the COVID-19 vaccines for students this fall.
Cline is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.