It seems as if the days of the Crooked River Roundup rodeo are on a potential collision course with the 70% vaccination threshold that Oregon must reach to see most COVID mandates lifted.
But will we reach that 70% mark in time for the opening night of rodeo performances, potentially enabling Roundup leaders to shake free from the shackles of risk category limitations and welcome as many people through the gates as they like? Who knows?
Approaching the end of last week, just over 68% of Oregonians 18 and older had received at least one vaccine dose. That means about 65,000 more people needed to get their first jab to reach 70% – and the state is averaging around 14,000 doses administered a day, though not all of those are first shots.
"We are so close," the governor tells us. Yes, we are – but close enough to hit 70% by June 24? Maybe. Several dates have been uttered in the past couple weeks as the big day – June 21, June 25, June 30 and even July 4 or later.
It has left many people impatient, including Republican lawmakers who are telling the governor that we're basically close enough. House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, released a public letter essentially pointing out improved medical treatment for infections and the natural immunity of those who contracted COVID-19 and survived should be enough to offset the less than 2% difference between Oregon's current vaccination rate and the 70% threshold. The letter also points out that governors in California and Washington – whose actions Oregon has often followed – are less restricted.
You don't have to look too far to see Oregon health and government leaders bending the rules for special events. Special gathering exemptions have been granted for Portland Trailblazers games, and some of Oregon's collegiate athletics programs have been allowed to practice and play while other sports programs had to wait.
So why not cut the Roundup some slack? After all, "We are so close," right? Is a difference of less than 2% – which can apparently be made up in a few more days – worth cutting crowd sizes for such an economic driver in the community by 85%?
Yes, this is similar to a kid wanting to skip the last day of school, but to continue the parallel, Oregonians have been in "school" for a very long time and are ready for their summer break – figuratively and literally. And here in Prineville, getting that summer break would really add to the success of its marquis event.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that what is correct today could change tomorrow. Will things change by Thursday? Let's hope so.
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