Clackamas County Eclipses 65% Vaccinated, Moves to Low Risk

More than 65% of adults in Clackamas County have received at least the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, officially moving the county and its businesses and entertainment venues into the lowest and least restrictive tier of the governor’s reopening matrix.

The move means indoor occupancy for Clackamas County’s restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters and other entertainment venues can increase to up to 50% of maximum capacity — effective immediately.

For many businesses, it’s the closest they have come to normal occupancy and operations since the pandemic began 15 months ago.

And, because it’s based on vaccination rates (a single-directional metric) there is not the risk of a whiplash return to increased restrictions — which happened multiple times when the reopening matrix was based on case counts and new infections.

Governor Kate Brown confirmed the move in a statement Saturday morning, having hinted that such a change was imminent during her press briefing the day before.

“I would like to thank everyone in Clackamas County who worked so hard to make this possible,” said Brown. “This truly was a community-wide effort. And thank you to everyone who has gotten vaccinated — you are protecting yourself, your loved ones, and your community from Covid-19.”

The county met the criteria for low risk by achieving a 65% first dose vaccination rate for adults and submitting an equity plan to the state. When county movements for this week were announced on Tuesday, Clackamas was just shy of the 65% mark — and has made a concerted push since then, Brown said.

Clackamas County’s public health nurses administered over 1,000 vaccines to homebound residents and worked with all 10 school districts in the county to bring the vaccine directly to those schools for students and families.

According to data from the Oregon Health Authority, Clackamas County’s percent change in people vaccinated over the past week was the highest in the state.

“This is great news for our Clackamas County residents and businesses,” Clackamas County Commissioners Board Chair Tootie Smith said in a news release. “I’d like to express my thanks to our local business community and residents for their sacrifices as they worked to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in our community.

“I’m hopeful that with our collective efforts we will soon fully reopen and get back to business.”

The next big push from public health officials is to reach 70% statewide — which would abolish the risk level system entirely, as well as the mask mandate in most places, allowing bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters and other indoor venues to operate at 100% capacity.

Brown has frequently described that eventuality as the “full reopening” of the state’s economy.

“Covid-19 still remains a serious health risk for residents who have not yet been vaccinated,” Clackamas County Public Health Director Philip Mason-Joyner warned. “Now 98% of the people who are hospitalized with Covid-19 are unvaccinated. We recommend everyone get vaccinated as soon as they can to avoid getting sick.”

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