Governor Kate Brown held a press conference Friday to provide an update on the status of COVID-19 in Oregon, and to urge Oregonians to make a plan to get vaccinated. The Governor was joined by Patrick Allen, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Director, and Dr. Dean Sidelinger, State Epidemiologist.
"Vaccines are the best way to protect yourself against serious illness and death from COVID-19," said Governor Brown. "They are the best way to protect yourself from variants. And they are the key to unlocking the restrictions this pandemic has forced on us, so we can return to doing the things we love and seeing the people we miss.
"This Monday, vaccine eligibility will open up to everyone age 16 and older. If you haven’t already had a chance to get vaccinated, make a plan to do so now. Tell your loved ones and neighbors you plan to get vaccinated, and share your reason why. And if you have already signed up for an appointment, help a friend sign up, too.
"And as our friends, family members, and neighbors await their vaccine, it's critical we all work together to keep them safe. Let’s not forget the basics: wear your mask, limit gatherings—especially with friends and family who aren’t fully vaccinated—and maintain social distance.
"With almost one in four Oregonians fully vaccinated, every day we are getting closer to reaching the community protection we need from this virus. We must keep our eyes on the horizon, and honor the personal responsibility we all share to follow public health safety measures."
OHA Director Patrick Allen acknowledged that, while OHA has worked to create equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines, we have not succeeded.
“The numbers are stark and clear,” said Director Allen. “For too many people, race and income are predictors of whether you can access a COVID-19 vaccine – or not. Yesterday, I heard the leaders of organizations who serve the Latino/Latina community voice their legitimate frustration at the inequitable disparity in vaccination rates for the Latino community. I share their frustration. As a state, we can and need to do better.”
Despite state efforts to prioritize vaccination of Latino community members, vaccination of Latinos/Latinas in Oregon remains low. As the state opens eligibility to everyone who is 16 and older on Monday, April 19, OHA pledges to focus efforts on those who have been most vulnerable to COVID-19 by working with community leaders.
According to Dr. Sidelinger, Oregon has seen cases rise rapidly over the past few weeks. Here is some of what he shared:
• Daily cases of COVID-19 have more than doubled in just over a month.
• Over the past two days, OHA has reported 1,576 new cases, the highest two-day total since early February.
• The largest increased illnesses in Oregon are in people in their twenties.
• The second biggest increase is in people in their thirties.
• According to the CDC, hospitals around the U.S. are seeing more people in their 30’s and 40’s who have been admitted with severe cases as the virus continues to mutate.
“Today, we find ourselves at another inflection point,” said Dr. Sidelinger. “Our actions over the next few weeks will determine when and whether we are able escape the pandemic. We have worked diligently since March to protect ourselves, loved ones and communities. We have stayed home – moved celebrations online, missed mourning with our families, some have lost jobs – and all have made tremendous sacrifices.”
Source: Oregon Governor's Office