PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced the latest update in the county coronavirus risk levels on Tuesday.
Three more counties — Lane, Coos and Wasco — are moving down to Lower Risk in the latest wave of risk level changes. Josephine and Yamhill counties will be moving down to Moderate Risk from High Risk. Those changes will take effect on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Harney County is going to be moving up from Lower Risk to Moderate Risk due to its rising case counts. Harney County’s change is set to take effect Friday, after the caution period the county was granted on June 4 expires.
By Thursday, June 17, there will be a total of 21 counties in the Lower Risk category, four in Moderate Risk and 11 in High Risk. No counties are considered Extreme Risk at this time.
Why counties are lagging
Harney County is one of several counties not even close to getting half their residents vaccinated with a first shot. In Harney County, the vaccination rate is 34.9%. Resistance to the vaccinations has become a political issue.
“Right now we are dealing with some of the problems that got us here because people don’t have trusting positive relationships with either government or the healthcare system or other traumas that make them doubt the information we are putting out there,” said Malheur County Health Department Director Sarah Poe.
Some counties said the chance to win $1 million does get some people to roll up their sleeves, but it’s not a big draw.
One interesting note is that some of the border counties near Washington or Idaho said hundreds, maybe thousands, of their residents got vaccinated in other states so their vaccinated population rate is likely higher than the official recordings.
Malheur County said nearly 2000 residents got their vaccination in Idaho, where they work. The same is true in Columbia County, where residents got their shot in Washington.
County officials said they just need to keep working on smaller clinics and doctors offices to make it easier to get a vaccine.
In Clackamas County — still in High Risk — they need about 3000 people to get a first shot to get to 65% of adults vaccinated. They’re working on getting clinics in more rural parts of the county.
Clackamas County officials feel confident they will reach the 65% level next week and will be able to more fully reopen restaurants and other businesses soon.
The latest update was given as the state continues inching toward the governor’s goal of 70% of adults vaccinated with at least their first shot of the COVID vaccine. Once that 70% vaccination rate is met, restrictions will be lifted and businesses can fully open.
“Oregon is so close to more fully reopening our economy, and I am grateful to everyone who has stepped up to get vaccinated. We will soon need to reach fewer than 100,000 Oregonians to achieve our statewide vaccination goal of 70% and lift the county risk level framework,” Brown said.
As of Sunday, 66.8% of Oregonians aged 18 and up have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. As of Monday, approximately 106,671 more adults need to be vaccinated to meet the governor’s goal.
The 7-day average of vaccinations in the state is now at 14,545 doses per day.
“For unvaccinated individuals, COVID-19 remains as large a threat as it ever was,” Brown said. “With more contagious variants spreading, far too many Oregonians are still being hospitalized when they could be protected with a vaccine. If you have been waiting to get vaccinated, go get your shot today. It’s never been easier to get an appointment, and you may just win $1 million through the Take Your Shot, Oregon campaign.”
A total of 125 new confirmed/presumptive cases of COVID-19 were recorded Monday in 22 Oregon counties, health officials said. But no new deaths were added to the toll.
The tri-county region collectively had 66 of the 125 cases recorded. Lane had 14 cases and the other reporting counties showed single-digit case numbers.
Overall, the total number of coronavirus cases in Oregon since the pandemic began stands at 203,374. The death toll remains at 2694.