PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One year ago, on Feb. 28, 2020, Oregon’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed.
Since then, the state has lost more than 2,200 lives to the virus, shut down businesses, closed schools, and found ways to navigate what many refer to as the “unprecedented times.”
On the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed case, Gov. Kate Brown praised Oregon for maintaining some of the lowest infection, hospitalization, and death rates in the nation throughout the pandemic.
She also thanked frontline workers who have saved lives, kept people fed, continued public transportation, and educated students for the last 12 months.
“Thank you to everyone who has helped friends and neighbors in need––from Oregonians experiencing hunger or homelessness, to those displaced by wildfires, to those who lost jobs and livelihoods during the pandemic,” the governor wrote in her statement.
She acknowledged that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Tribal, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Pacific Islander, Asian populations, its communities of color, and its refugee communities.
“We must do better––to build a stronger, more just, more equitable Oregon for everyone who lives here,” Brown said.
The governor said “the light at the end of the tunnel grows closer each day” as she mentioned the vaccine efforts accelerating.
However, she also stressed the importance of keeping the guard up as more contagious COVID-19 variants circulate in the U.S. She said Oregonians must keep wearing masks, avoiding gatherings with people from outside their households, continue to maintain social distance, wash their hands, and stay home when they’re sick.
Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen also praised Oregonians for saving lives by wearing masks and practicing social distancing in an open letter to to Oregon Sunday.
“Oregon was one of the first states in the nation to report a case of COVID-19, but a year later our state has the 4th lowest coronavirus case rate in the nation, the 4th lowest death rate and the 4th lowest COVID-19 death rate among seniors,” he said in the letter. “If Oregon’s death rate matched the nation’s, three times as many Oregonians would have lost their lives.
Read Gov. Brown’s full statement below:
“For so many Oregonians, after living through the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, flooding, severe winter weather, and a long-overdue reckoning on racism and racial justice, our lives are far different than they were on February 28, one year ago.
“Through it all, I have been inspired by the way Oregonians have pulled together and helped one another. Because of your smart choices to protect friends and family, Oregon has maintained some of the lowest infection, hospitalization, and death rates in the nation throughout the pandemic.
“Today, I want to take a moment to say: Thank you, Oregon.
“Thank you to all our frontline workers––from our doctors, nurses and health care workers who have worked tirelessly to save lives, to the agricultural, food processing, and grocery workers who have kept food on our tables throughout the pandemic, to first responders, postal workers, transportation workers, restaurant and food service workers, educators and school support staff, and the many more who have kept us all going.
“Thank you to everyone who has helped friends and neighbors in need––from Oregonians experiencing hunger or homelessness, to those displaced by wildfires, to those who lost jobs and livelihoods during the pandemic.
“Thank you to parents and caregivers, especially working mothers, who have balanced school, work, and family responsibilities in ways we never before imagined.
“We must also acknowledge that this pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Tribal, Latino, Latina, and Latinx, Pacific Islander, Asian, and communities of color, as well as our immigrant and refugee communities. We must do better––to build a stronger, more just, more equitable Oregon for everyone who lives here.
“With our vaccine efforts ramping up, the light at the end of the tunnel grows closer each day. We are reopening school buildings, businesses, and communities. But we must keep up our guard, with new, more contagious COVID-19 variants circulating in the United States, including in Oregon.
“Today and every day, we remember the more than 2,200 Oregonians we have lost. Our hearts are with the families who have lost loved ones to this deadly disease. We must continue to keep each other safe by wearing masks, avoiding gatherings with people from outside our households, maintaining distance, washing our hands, and staying home while sick.
“But, while we must continue to keep our physical distance from one another, we will get through the rest of this pandemic the same way we have come this far: together.”