PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced Clackamas County has been approved to move to the state’s Lower Risk level for reopening.
The move is effective immediately, according to the governor’s office.
On Saturday, the county reached the required 65% first dose vaccination rate after nearly making the cutoff last week. The county’s public health nurses administered over 1,000 vaccines to homebound residents, and worked with all ten school districts in the county to bring the vaccine directly to those schools for students and families since June 8, according to health officials.
“I would like to thank everyone in Clackamas County who worked so hard to make this possible,” said Governor Brown. “This truly was a community-wide effort. And thank you to everyone who has gotten vaccinated––you are protecting yourself, your loved ones, and your community from COVID-19. Now, let’s keep working so we can reach 70% statewide––if you’ve been waiting to get vaccinated, now is the time. It’s free, there are available appointments across the state, and you just might win $1 million.”
On May 11, Brown announced 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.
“This is great news for our Clackamas County residents and businesses,” said Clackamas County Commissioners Board Chair Tootie Smith. “I’d like to express my thanks to our local business community and residents for their sacrifices as they worked to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community. I’m hopeful that with our collective efforts we will soon fully reopen and get back to business.”
According to state guidelines, Lower Risk means restaurants, bars, and other food establishments; gyms and fitness facilities; retail stores; and faith institutions and funeral homes can have greater capacity indoors and outdoors and stay open later.
“Achieving 65 percent vaccination is an excellent accomplishment,” said Clackamas County Public Health Director Philip Mason-Joyner. “COVID-19 still remains a serious health risk for residents who have not yet been vaccinated. Now 98 percent of the people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. We recommend everyone get vaccinated as soon as they can to avoid getting sick.”
Alberto Garcia, the owner of Bistro Cubano in Oregon City, said the county moving to Lower Risk is welcome news.
“We’ve been opened for just a little under two years and unfortunately most of that time has been under COVID restrictions,” Garcia said. “Now that things are starting to loosen up, we are really looking forward to a busy summer and hopefully a really good season.”
For bars and restaurants, Lower Risk means indoor dining can return to 50% capacity.
“A lot of people have been vaccinated and so our policy is that if you guys are vaccinated, you are welcome to come in without a mask. If you feel unsafe, you are more than welcome to wear a mask,” said Garcia.
Garcia said he’s been lucky to retain most of his staff throughout the pandemic and the expansion of the patio helped to keep the business going strong despite tighter indoor restrictions throughout the pandemic. He looks forward to moving into a new normal for the summer season ahead.
“With our patio extended that we can have people sit outside. Enjoy our cuisine, enjoy our drinks and really just have us be a part of Main Street and see what this place could really be like,” he said.