PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Health officials say 29% of adults in Oregon are still not vaccinated against COVID-19. Ebony Clarke, the director of the Multnomah County Health Department, said less than half of the state’s BIPOC community has been vaccinated.

That, she said, is a real problem.

Multnomah County Health Director Ebony Clarke, July 22, 2021 (KOIN)

“Why is that a problem for our community? Because we are impacted by chronic diseases such as diabetes, such as high blood pressure. And those type of things put us more at risk of being gravely impacted by COVID19,” Clarke said.

In what was billed as an “urgent call to action,” Multnomah County health officials held a late afternoon press conference on Thursday to talk about COVID cases and vaccine hesitancy among the BIPOC community.

“We’re here to keep it real,” Clarke said. “The pandemic is not over and the only way that we’re going to get through this is together.”

“The vaccines being offered right here at this event can and will save lives,” said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury.

Mike and Desire Cage shared their COVID stories and why they are no longer vaccine hesitant.

Desire went to the event at the People’s Market at Rockwood to get her second dose of the vaccine. She was initially hesitant to get vaccinated because of “the government’s history with Black people and getting them to do things for their own motives. … It’s not necessarily something I trusted.”

But she and her husband decided to get vaccinated after they both got COVID, which put Mike in the hospital.

“It was really, really bad,” she said. “My dad went and got it and the first thing he said was, ‘I told you so’ when we got so sick.”

Germaine Flentroy, who helped organize the press conference and vaccination event, called on more people to get vaccinated. She understands why Black people may be hesitant to get the vaccine.

“I mean, historically, we don’t want to be test dummies. So we want to make sure what’s going on,” Flentroy said. “Is this something that people are trying to kill Black people?”

Dr. Bukhosi Dube with the Oregon Health Authority, was at the event and summed it up the best.

“The other thing that’s really concerning is that we have a delta variant, a new variant that’s spreading across the country and also across Oregon and it’s causing a lot of illness, it’s two times more transmissible that the original strain,” Dube said.

A COVID vaccination clinic at the Rockwood Farmer’s Market near SE 188th and Burnside, July 22, 2021 (KOIN)

“If you are not vaccinated you are in harms way. You need to get vaccinated to protect yourself and to protect those who are near and dear to you.”

This vaccination clinic at the Rockwood Farmer’s Market will take place each Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. near SE 188th and Burnside.

There are incentives to get vaccinated:

$100 gift card for your first shot, a $50 gift card for your second shot and if you take someone to get the vaccine, you’ll get at $50 gift card.

COVID-19 numbers July 22, 2021

One more person with COVID-19 has died in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,834, the Oregon Health Authority said Thursday.

The OHA reported 539 new confirmed and presumptive cases, bringing the state total 214,263.

There were 169 people being treated for COVID at Oregon hospitals and 39 patients in ICU beds.

The OHA reported 5,925 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry on Thursday.

The seven-day running average is now 4,576 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered 2,628,183 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,772,908 first and second doses of Moderna and 177,730 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

To date, 2,460,594 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 2,288,184 people have completed a vaccine series.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported Thursday were in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (7), Clackamas (44), Columbia (8), Coos (6), Crook (3), Curry (3), Deschutes (28), Douglas (19), Grant (1), Hood River (1), Jackson (63), Jefferson (6), Josephine (27), Klamath (3), Lane (50), Lincoln (2), Linn (24), Malheur (4), Marion (36), Morrow (3), Multnomah (54), Polk (8), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (70), Union (3), Wallowa (5), Wasco (4), Washington (43) and Yamhill (12).

Oregon’s 2,834th death is a 95-year-old woman from Douglas County who tested positive on July 13 and died on July 20 at Mercy Medical Center. The presence of underlying conditions was being confirmed.

The OHA said it does not report the vaccination status of people in its daily update of COVID-related deaths but added that statewide data shows people who remain unvaccinated are at much greater risk of infection and severe illness.

In June, 92% of the 7,241 COVID cases and 94% of the 63 COVID-associated deaths occurred in unvaccinated Oregonians, the OHA said. On the first Thursday of each month, OHA publishes an update on vaccine breakthrough cases identified in Oregon. The findings shared in the July 1 report suggest that this number remains very small when compared to the more than 2 million people who have completed a COVID vaccination series.