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Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway marked March 1 as a day to honor and remember survivors and victims of the coronavirus.

PMG FILE PHOTO: - Hillsboro Mayor Steve CallawayNearly one year ago, Oregon's first confirmed case of a little-understood novel coronavirus was detected in Hillsboro.

The COVID-19 pandemic has since killed more than 2.4 million people worldwide, and nearly 490,000 Americans, as of Wednesday, Feb. 17.

In honor and remembrance of the more than 20,500 Washington County residents who have contracted the virus and the 207 people who have died of it, Hillsboro officials proclaimed March 1 to be "COVID-19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day."

"Whereas, each life lost to COVID-19 mattered and leaves a hole in the hearts of loved ones, family members, and surrounding community," said Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway, reading an official proclamation at the City Council's meeting Tuesday, Feb. 16 — which, as has been the case for most of the past year, took place over Zoom.

"We urge our community members to remember those who have lost their lives and honor those who are forever marked by COVID and continue to suffer from the impact of this virus," Callaway said.

Hillsboro's proclamation noted that while the virus continues to change how societies globally function on a fundamental level, it has "had a disproportionate impact on low-income communities and communities of color, exacerbating inequities already prevalent in our systems that we must address as a nation."

Latinos account for more than 40% of the total cases and 38% of the hospitalizations in Washington County, while they make up only 15% of the population.

The long-term effects of the virus on survivors are not well-known, as the proclamation noted, since the virus was just first detected in late 2019, in Wuhan, China.

Many otherwise healthy people who contracted the virus and later tested negative report symptoms including fatigue, shortness of breath, lapses of memory and other inexplicable pain, suggesting COVID-19 causes lasting damage to the brain, lungs and heart.

Governments at all levels, including in Hillsboro, have dramatically shifted how they deliver services and engage with the community, including coming up with creative ways to bring neighbors together with socially distanced events, such as drive-in movies.

While at least one new variant of the coronavirus is present in Hillsboro and daily case totals statewide are still in the hundreds, officials are now focused on restoring normalcy by vaccinating the most vulnerable segments of the population.

More than 920,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in Oregon as of Wednesday, according to the Oregon Health Authority. That includes both first and second doses, since the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that have been approved for emergency use both require two doses administered weeks apart

As Hillsboro enters its second year with the coronavirus, officials continue to emphasize the need for "social distancing, wearing masks in public, and staying home help mitigate the spread of COVID-19."


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