Oregon State University student Chloe Zinda is the state’s newest — and, perhaps, youngest — millionaire.
Governor Kate Brown announced at a news conference Friday that the McMinnville native won the grand prize of $1 million (before taxes) in the state’s vaccine lottery meant to incentivize more Oregonians to take the free Covid-19 vaccine.
Zinda, a part-time swim instructor, was at work when the call and follow-up text came in from state officials, prompting her to immediately ask a coworker, “Is this a scam?”
It was not.
“I was so shocked,” a beaming Zinda said at Friday’s conference, flanked by Brown and Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen. “I ran downstairs and was just screaming and running around. Yeah, it was insane.”
Zinda, who is studying fine arts, said she will use the money to pay off student loans, pursue her dream of being an artist and possibly open her own studio someday.
“This money is really going to be life-changing for me,” she said. “I’m just really excited about what the future holds.”
The state’s Take Your Shot campaign included other incentives, including a 10,000 prize to a resident of every one of Oregon’s 36 counties. Those winners will be announced in the coming weeks.
Earlier in the press engagement, Brown and other officials gave an update on Oregon’s improved coronavirus outlook — much of that thanks to the fact that more than 70% of the state’s adults have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while more than 2.2 million Oregonians have been fully vaccinated.
“We absolutely know that by reaching our goal of 70%, which we reached last Friday, our communities are safer,” Brown said. “We are going to continue our vaccination efforts. We’re going to double down and make sure every Oregonian who wants a vaccination can get one.”
Brown said Oregon ranks 18th in the country in the percentage of residents who have received at least one dose — but 12th in terms of the share of its population that is fully protected against Covid-19.
“I’m very excited for our winner, but I’m just as excited for our state,” Allen, the OHA director, said Friday. “Thanks to our winner — and the more than 2.4 million other Oregonians who’ve received at least one dose of the safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines — Covid-19 no longer holds Oregon in its grip.”
The impact the vaccine rollout has had on the coronavirus is dramatic. Six weeks ago, Oregon was seeing an average of 517 new cases and eight Covid-related deaths per day, with hospitals in every region at or over capacity treating severely ill patients.
Today, the seven-day average for new daily cases has dropped to around 160, and fewer than 100 people are currently hospitalized with severe Covid-19 cases — the lowest number the state has seen since last summer.
More than 90% of hospitalizations and deaths have been in unvaccinated individuals, Allen said.
For more information about the vaccine and where you can find it, visit covidvaccine.oregon.gov. If you have questions about taking the vaccine, consult your health care provider.
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