Oregon is closing in on reopening the economy.
On Friday, Gov. Kate Brown announced that more than 67% of Oregon residents have taken at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, leaving fewer than 100,000 more vaccines needed to reach the 70% threshold Brown set to fully reopen the economy.
“Thanks to the vaccine, our case rate and hospitalizations continue to decline,” Brown said. “As of today, at least 2.3 million Oregonians have received at least one dose of the vaccine. We are so close to reopening our economy.”
State Epidemiologist Dr. Sidelinger said that cases in the state are directly in line with the increase in vaccinations.
“Daily cases, COVID-19 related hospitalizations and the percentage of people testing positive continue to decline,” Sidelinger said.
Over the last week, 1,725 new COVID cases were announced in the state, the lowest number since September. Hospitalizations were down 24 percent and only 20 new deaths linked to the virus were reported.
“The landscape of the virus has shifted dramatically,” Sidelinger said. “The virus is overwhelmingly impacting those who are not vaccinated when those who are vaccinated are safe. Virtually every person infected right now is not fully vaccinated.”
Sidelinger said the vaccines are all proven safe and effective, and the best way to beat COVID is to get the vaccine.
“In order to decisively defeat the virus and avoid a future outbreak, we must get more people vaccinated,” he said. “There’s no substitute for the vaccine.”
Sidelinger said modeling in Oregon continues to show decreasing cases, hospitalizations and deaths. On the current trend, cases will fall to around 100 a day with only five new hospitalizations.
Brown echoed that sentiment, saying those who have taken the vaccine deserve praise.
“We still have more work to do to ensure all Oregonians are safe from COVID-19,” Brown said. “Thank you to everyone who’s gotten the vaccine. Thank you to all Oregonians who are making it easier for their employees to get vaccinated. Thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to drive a family member or friend to an appointment or had a conversation with a friend who’s had a question about vaccines. All these efforts contribute to our success as a state.”
Brown also reminded Oregon residents that getting the vaccine is free, and every Oregonian who gets at least one dose will be eligible to win $1 million. On June 25, the state will announce winners of the vaccine awards, with one person winning $1 million and one person from every county winning $10,000.
Brown said one of her big worries right now is coming changes to the eviction moratorium in the state. A new state law does not allow Brown to extend the moratorium, which ends June 30.
“This means renters must pay their July rent or the landlord can evict them for nonpayment,” Brown said. “To the thousands of Oregonians who lost jobs or fell behind on their rent during the pandemic, please apply today for rental assistance to pay your July rent. Under current law, you cannot be evicted until next year for rent owed from April 2020 to June 2021. Rental assistance programs can help you with past rent.” Brown encouraged those struggling with rent to apply at oregonrentalassistance.org to get a share of the federal money sent to the state to help just those people.
Brown also called on landlords in the state to give renters time to pay, especially if they have applied for rental assistance.
“We have made it through the pandemic by watching out for one another,” Brown said. “We have seen Oregon’s spirit time and again.”
Sidelinger closed the meeting by again encouraging residents to get vaccinated. He emphasized the vaccine is safe and effective. The key to defeating COVID is simple, the vaccines.
“We are finally gaining the upper hand against the virus,” Sidelinger said.