PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Gov. Kate Brown defended her decision to place additional restrictions on businesses Friday morning as 15 of Oregon’s 36 counties moved to the “Extreme Risk” category.
“As your governor, I chose to save lives,” she said.
During the Friday morning press conference, Brown said the data to support the decision was “eye opening.” The decision to move 15 counties back to Extreme Risk was announced on Tuesday after Brown warned the state on April 23 at least 12 counties faced the COVID-19 risk level move.
Brown said $20 million in relief funds is now available for businesses impacted by the restrictions.
“Economic relief is something I can do as your governor to help Oregonians impacted by this fourth surge,” she said.
Brown expressed some optimism though, saying that if the pace of vaccinations continues, she plans to lift restrictions by the end of June.
“Cases will fall and vaccine levels will be high enough that with basic preventive measure the virus cannot grow,” Dr. Peter Graven, Lead Data Scientist, Business Intelligence unit, Oregon Health & Science University said.
About half of the state’s population has received one vaccine dose and just 30% are fully vaccinated. Counties outside of the Portland metro area have seen a drop in vaccine demand.
Oregon is still leading the nation in surging COVID case numbers. This week marks the fifth straight week cases jumping by 20% or more.
On Thursday, 928 new confirmed and presumptive cases were recorded, and by Friday afternoon, 990 new confirmed and presumptive cases were reported, along with four new deaths.
Younger and what were healthier people are now being treated at hospitals across Oregon. Officials said the number of hospitalized patients between 18 and 32 has doubled. At this time, 334 Oregonians remain hospitalized due to the virus, with 73 of them in ICU beds.
At Providence St. Vincent and Portland Medical Center, 40% of their patients in the ICU in the past two months were under the age of 50.
OHSU scientists said Friday they predict tighter restrictions will prevent more than 700 hospitalizations in Oregon and nearly 200 more deaths by reducing the spread of the virus in the coming weeks.
Risk Level of Oregon counties as of April 27, 2021
- Extreme Risk: Baker, Clackamas, Columbia, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Wasco
- High Risk: Benton, Clatsop, Coos, Hood River, Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington, Umatilla, Yamhill
- Moderate Risk: Curry, Douglas, Malheur, Tillamook
- Lower Risk: Gilliam, Harney, Lake, Morrow, Sherman, Union, Wallowa, Wheeler