If 127,000 more Oregonians receive the Covid-19 vaccine, the state’s economy can fully reopen with masks mostly a thing of the past, Governor Kate Brown said Friday.
The full reopening will be triggered when 70% or more of Oregonian adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine — a threshold Brown said the state is on track to reach by June 21.
When that happens, the county risk level framework that governs capacities at restaurants, bars, fitness centers, theaters, and other indoor entertainment venues will go away — and allowable occupancy at most places will return to 100% for the first time in 15 months.
Masks and physical distancing will become a thing of the past, with a few exceptions that are in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance: airports, public transit and health care settings.
“By and large, this means we will be able to return to the activities and traditions we have missed for more than a year,” Brown said. “Fourth of July barbecues. Eating popcorn in a movie theater again. Getting a beer after work at the local brewery with friends. Restaurants and bars will be able to welcome a full house. The Pendleton Round-Up? Yes, that too.”
Public schools will also return to full-time in-person instruction as well, the governor added.
Though, by outward appearances, life will have returned to normal — the pandemic will not be entirely over, Brown and other state public health officials warned. The virus is and will remain a real threat to those who are either unable or unwilling to take the vaccine, they said.
“There isn’t one pandemic in Oregon — there are two,” said Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen. “One is a pandemic that is dying out among people who are vaccinated. And the other is a pandemic that is raging as fiercely as ever among people who are unvaccinated.”
Between March 1 and May 31 of this year, 98% of confirmed coronavirus cases and 94% of Covid-related deaths were among those who were not fully vaccinated, health officials said.
It’s a dichotomy Allen described as a “tale of two pandemics.”
“The data clearly shows that if you are fully vaccinated, you can begin to put the pandemic behind you,” he said. “But if you’re unvaccinated, the threat of Covid-19 still shadows your life.”
“The decision to get vaccinated is a very personal one,” added State Epidemiologist Dean Sidelinger. “But the data unquestionably shows that the widespread availability of safe and highly effective vaccines has flipped the script in Oregon.”
A Bend doctor said the story holds true in his experience.
“The vaccinated population is staying out of the hospital and the unvaccinated are the only ones getting in,” said Dr. Louis D’Avignon, a pulmonary critical care specialist for St. Charles Health Hospital. Of 98 deaths at the hospital, 97 were in unvaccinated patients, he said Friday.
“This is now essentially a preventable disease,” he said of Covid-19. “We don’t need to keep seeing this happen over and over again.”
As of Friday, 2.2 million Oregonians had received at least one shot — accounting for 66.2% of the eligible population.
In Clackamas County, 62.4% of the eligible population had taken their shot. Approximately 9,237 Clackamas Countians need to get immunized for the county to reach 65% — which would put the area in the “low risk” tier, where businesses and event venues may open at 50% capacity.
Clackamas County’s Portland metro area neighbors — Multnomah and Washington — reached that mark weeks ago.
The Covid-19 vaccine is free and widely available to people 12 and older. For information about clinics and availability, visit clackamas.us/coronavirus/vaccine or egov.com/find-covid-19-vaccine, call 211 or email questions to COVIDVaccine@clackamas.us.
If you have questions or concerns about the vaccine, consult with your primary care provider or trusted health care professional.
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