We’re this close. That’s the message Governor Kate Brown had Friday for Clackamas County — the largest county in the state to remain at “high risk” — the most restrictive tier of the governor’s reopening framework for businesses and venues.
Multnomah and Washington counties — Clackamas’s larger and more urban neighbors, with a more Democratic-leaning electorate — jumped to the opposite extreme of the reopening matrix (known as low or “lowest risk”) weeks ago, after clearing the goal of vaccinating at least 65% of their eligible populations and filing an equity plan with the state.
Clackamas County was left behind, thanks to its more sluggish vaccine rollout — impeded by, among other things, a more rural population spread out over a much larger area.
But, thanks to county residents and the hard work of local health officials, that is about to change. Brown lauded the county during a press conference Friday, saying Clackamas is cleared to move to low risk as soon as it crosses the 65% mark — without having to wait for the weekly risk level adjustments (which are typically announced on Tuesdays and take effect a few days later).
“I want to highlight Clackamas County and their work,” said Brown. “To reach this goal, Clackamas County’s public health nurses administered over 1,000 vaccines to homebound residents, and they’ve worked with all 10 school districts in the county to bring the vaccine directly to those schools for students and families. Incredible work.”
For the week ending June 7, Clackamas County’s percent change in people vaccinated — plus-5% — was the highest in the state, topping even Washington (4.8%) and Multnomah (4.5%).
Brown said the county could reach the 65% goal as early as Friday.
The state is also in good shape, sitting at 67.4% and within striking distance of its goal of 70% of all adults. When that mark is crossed, the risk level system will go away entirely, as will the mask mandate in most places, and bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters and other indoor venues will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity.
“We are so close to fully reopening our economy,” Brown said Friday.
Her optimism — ahem — masked the truth: the state’s vaccine rollout has slowed to a near-trickle compared to what it was just a few weeks ago.
Oregon’s vaccine Lottery — an incentive that has shown effectiveness in other states at improving vaccination rates among those who are not opposed to the shot, but not highly motivated to get it either — doesn’t appear to have moved the needle. (Pun, as always, intended.)
On Friday, Brown announced the launch of a new website for the “Take Your Shot” campaign, which includes a web portal by which veterans and others who received their shots at a federal VA hospital or clinic, on Tribal lands or out-of-state can register to be included in the June 28 drawing.
Unlike most Oregonians, these folks were not automatically entered into the sweepstakes due to privacy laws prohibiting federal agencies and other states from sharing private health information.
Brown also announced other incentives: For the next few days, people who get a first- or single-dose vaccine at some locations will receive a $100 Fred Meyer or Safeway gift card. Those locations include Hillsboro Stadium, PDX Airport, the Oregon Convention Center and OHSU Multnomah Pavilion — while supplies last.
Kids and youth age 12-17 will be eligible to receive a gift card with a parent or guardian’s permission. Walk in, drive-up or register at All4Oregon.org.
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