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Oregon governor sets vaccination targets for state to reopen

by SARA CLINE Associated Press/Report for America
| May 11, 2021 3:10 PM

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."

Currently, more than half of Oregon's eligible population have received their first vaccine dose.

“For the first time since the start of the pandemic, we’ll be able to say the virus no longer controls the timelines in our lives — we will if enough Oregonians make the choice to get vaccinated," said Pat Allen, the Oregon Health Authority's director.

Counties with 65% of the population, 16 and older, vaccinated will be eligible for the “lower risk” category.

Under the lower risk category, residents in the county can have indoor gatherings of 10 people or outdoor gatherings of 12 people. Restaurants, gyms and indoor and outdoor entertainment can open up to 50% capacity.

Currently, two counties — Benton and Hood River — have already vaccinated more than 65% of adult residents and are ready to move to the lower risk category on May 21, unless they opt-out.

Four counties — Deschutes, Lincoln, Multnomah and Washington — have vaccinated more than 60% of their adult population and are likely reach the target by May 21. An addition five counties — Clackamas, Clatsop, Lane, Polk and Tillamook — have vaccinated 55% of their adult population.

In order to reach the statewide 70% target by the end of June, Allen says, Oregon would need to administer 8,700 first doses per day over the next seven weeks. At the start of the week, the state was averaging a total of 34,869 first and second doses each day.

“Our vaccination targets are in reach, and it’s possible we can exit the statewide risk metrics before July 4th, even if there’s a dip in our current vaccination rates," Allen said. "Based on our current trajectory, we’re on track to actually vaccinate eight in 10 adults by mid to late June.”

While Brown said 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.

Last month, Brown tightened COVID-19 restrictions — moving 15 counties into the “extreme risk” category that bans indoor dining and significantly reduces gym and indoor entertainment capacities — because of increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates.

However, since then health officials say Oregon's COVID-19 situation has improved.

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.

In coming weeks, health officials say doses will be moved to “familiar places where people typically get a flu shot.” Clinic locations will be shifted from mass vaccination sites to smaller community-based sites, such as schools.

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