Governor Kate Brown again announced expanded eligibility Friday for new Oregonians to receive the Covid-19 vaccine — even as she warned that a “fourth surge” of the pandemic looms over the state amid school reopenings and relaxed restrictions in many areas — along with more aggressive variants of the novel coronavirus.
“It’s clear that, in Oregon and across the country, the fourth surge of this virus is at our doorstep,” Brown said. “While Oregon’s case numbers, fortunately, haven’t matched those of other states seeing large spikes, our numbers are rising and we are back on alert.”
As public health officials feared (and anticipated), Clackamas County did cross the threshold of 100 new cases per 100,000 residents, part of a sustained backward trend dating back to more than a month ago.
The milestone would appear to place the county eligible for being moved back into the “high risk” category of the governor’s reopening framework, with more severe restrictions on businesses and other activities, though it remains at the lower “moderate risk” level for now.
Statewide, Oregon health officials say there was a considerable increase in transmission through mid-March with an estimated reproduction rate of 1.12 — meaning that every person infected with the virus spread it to more than one additional person.
If this level of transmission continues, the state can expect to see daily new hospitalizations for Covid-19 to increase to 17 or more by mid-April.
“The good news is, now when we face a surge, we know how to protect ourselves and others with powerful safety measures like mask wearing and avoiding large social gatherings,” Brown said. “And we have three safe and effective vaccines rapidly rolling out.
“But make no mistake, this is a race between the vaccines and the variants. It is a critical moment for us all to double down so we can outrun this next wave.”
The governor’s expansion of vaccine eligibility Friday includes family members of front-line essential workers as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“If you are a front-line worker as defined by the CDC, when you make a vaccine appointment for yourself, make them for your whole family, too,” the governor said. “If you’re attending a community vaccine event, bring your family with you.
“We know it is not easy for everyone to find the time and transportation to get a vaccine. If you’re a front-line worker making the effort, bring your family, and do it all together.”
Health officials also changed the state’s definition of underlying conditions to match the one used by the CDC.
The state is also asking coordinated care organizations and commercial health insurance providers to reach out to their members with underlying conditions to share information about the importance of vaccinations, and how to get connected to a vaccine.
The state of Oregon has administered almost 2 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to more than 1.2 million eligible adults so far. More than 750,000 Oregonians have been fully vaccinated — representing about 18% of the state’s population.
Health officials say the state can’t reach the threshold for herd immunity until at least 75-80% of residents have been immunized.
Those interested in taking the vaccine may also register with the state at getvaccinated.oregon.gov to be notified of appointments when they are available for your eligibility group.
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