The number of adults in Columbia County vaccinated for COVID-19 continues to be below the 65% threshold to move the county out of the High Risk health and safety classification.
That means public restrictions and business limitations will continue.
Governor Kate Brown today announced updates to county risk levels under the state's public health framework to reduce transmission and protect Oregonians from COVID-19.
A complete list of counties and their associated risk levels is available here.
Brown announced in early May, that counties that vaccinate at least 65% of their adult residents with at least one dose and submit documentation on how they will close equity gaps in their vaccination efforts are eligible to move to the Lower Risk level.
Columbia County's challenges
‘We’ve been plagued over the last two months by outbreaks at schools — we had over a dozen outbreaks at almost every school in the county, and that has really pushed our numbers up,” Michael Paul explained during the Columbia County Board of Commissioners meeting June 9. “As school comes to a close, and our overall infection rate in the state and the region has declined, I hope that very soon, we’ll move down from high risk.”
Another way for the county to move out of high risk, according to Paul, is for the county to reach 65% of the population being vaccinated—with residents 16 years-old and older having one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re making progress. We’re growing at about 1%, but we still have a little ways to go,” Paul said.
To reach the 65% mark, 20,000 residents will need to be vaccinated with at least one dose by that June 21 re-opening date.
“The good news is that if the state reaches the 70% threshold, then the entire sate restrictions will be lifted,” Paul said. “I don’t want us to be left behind, and then be a pocket or a harbor for the coronavirus.
Oregon close to reopening
Oregon is just below Governor Brown's goal of vaccinating 70% of adults, which would allow the state's economy to reopen and most restrictions, such as face coverings and social distancing being eliminated.
"We are incredibly close to achieving a 70% statewide adult vaccination rate, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and lifting health and safety restrictions," Brown said. "Vaccines are the best way for Oregonians to protect themselves, their families, and communities against COVID-19. Because so many Oregonians have stepped up to get vaccinated, Oregon’s case rates and hospitalizations have continued to decline.
For those not vaccinated, Brown said COVID-19 remains just as dangerous as before.
"If you have been waiting to get vaccinated, go get your shot today," Brown said. "It's never been easier to get vaccinated, and you may just win $1 million through the Take Your Shot, Oregon campaign."
A county vaccination data dashboard is available on OHA's website.
Weekly County Movements
As case rates continue to decline, county risk level changes will be announced every week. Counties can move to lower risk levels based either on vaccination rates and the submission of an equity plan, or declining case rates and positivity rates.
The next risk level changes will be announced on Tuesday, June 22, to take effect on Friday, June 25. Some counties, such as Polk County this week and Clackamas County last week, may move sooner if they achieve a 65% vaccination rate after weekly county movements are announced.
Follow developments here online and in the Friday print editions of The Chief.