Brown: Oregon could lift COVID restrictions when 70% of residents vaccinated
Gov Kate Brown laid out some basic math on Tuesday, May 11, for Oregon residents hoping for as near a "normal" as possible. Brown said she would lift nearly all COVID-19 restrictions across the state when over 70% of residents aged 16 and older have received at least a first dose of vaccine.
"If you have already been vaccinated, thank you. Now help a friend, family member or neighbor make an appointment."
It could happen as early as May 21 for counties at "lower risk" under Oregon's COVID-19 risk tiers if 65% of the county's residents have started the vaccination process. Counties must also submit a "vaccine equity" plan to get vaccine opportunities to people in underserved communities.
Brown said the moves were possible because data showing the most recent spike in cases over the past month has begun to fade.
"It looks like we've crossed the tipping point of the fourth surge," Brown said. "Our hospitalization rates have stabilized. Our infection rates are on a downward trajectory. And in the race between vaccines and variants, our efforts to vaccinate Oregonians are taking the lead."
Brown said she was confident the statewide vaccination goal that would open up the entire state was possible to hit in June. The plans came as Brown released the now-weekly list of vaccine risk levels for Oregon's 36 counties. Any changes to status would go into effect on Friday, May 14.
Brown said the 70% mark statewide was "our goal" for a return to a sense of normalcy. "If you have already been vaccinated, thank you," Brown said. "Now help a friend, family member or neighbor make an appointment."
After achieving 70% statewide vaccination of those aged 16 and older, Oregon may continue requiring some use of masks and physical distancing, Brown said, as the Centers for Disease Control and Oregon Health Authority monitor conditions.
All other health and safety requirements for counties under the risk level framework would be lifted, and counties would no longer be assigned risk levels.
Oregon public schools would still follow the state's "Ready Schools, Safe Learners" protocols, which will be updated before the upcoming return to school in the fall with an eye on removing those restrictions where possible with CDC guidance.
Brown said the state would continue to work toward increasing vaccination opportunities for communities of color.
The reopening process will begin for counties May 18, when the latest risk level statistics will be released, Brown said.
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