Brown expresses optimism after no virus spike, vaccine, bills passed

Oregon

Oregon legislature OK'd all COVID bills in special session on Monday

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Kate Brown thanked both the Oregon legislature for passing all of the bills they considered during the third special session Monday and residents of the state for doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Step-by-step we are making great progress in fighting this virus,” she said during her Tuesday press conference. There was evidence that the two-week freeze earlier this month “blunted the virus surge.”

“Thanks to Oregonians to respecting our safety measures, we didn’t see the spike in cases we feared,” she said. Cases were down 11% last week,” the governor said.

Vaccine shipments ‘fluid and changing process’

OHA Director Pat Allen said he was proud of the state’s effort to distribute the COVID vaccine last week. He said more doses were on their way, including those of Moderna. But he added federally controlled vaccine shipments to Oregon will be short for a second straight week.

“This week we learned our Pfizer vaccine allocation would again be cut this time by over 30% and our Moderna vaccine will be cut by 7000 doses,” he said Tuesday. “We all need to understand vaccine distribution will be a fluid and changing process as we go forward.”

“We’ll use the Moderna vaccines to reach hospitals that don’t have access to ultra-cold freezers,” Allen said. A total of 165 first doses of Moderna were administered statewide on Monday. Allen said the state was still on track to have 100,000 Oregonians receive their first doses by the end of the year.

She said Oregon students were her first priority and is doing everything she can to get them back to the classroom.

“School is where kids get connected with the community,” she said. “It’s a place of comfort, learning and of growth.”

As part of the fluid vaccine process Allen described, Brown decided to move the state’s educators higher on the priority list.

“I have asked the Oregon Health Authority to prioritize school personnel, our child care providers and early education providers in the next vaccines,” the governor said. “They would be at the top of the list in 1B.”

All teacher vaccinations are voluntary, she said, and is hopeful most educators will choose to fight the pandemic by following data and science.

“The good news is if people continue to follow safety protocols, we are hoping to see more counties move into lesser risk levels,” Brown said, “which means they will see their bars and restaurants open.

Special session successful

Also on Monday, Oregon House and Senate passed all the bills they considered: The $800 million in relief, cocktails to-go, rent relief for landlords, an extension of the eviction moratorium and a bill limiting the liability of schools for COVID claims.

Although ultimately successful, the special session did not go without its hiccups. Protesters disrupted the session of the Oregon Legislature Monday, breaking a glass door on the side of the State Capitol that was quickly declared an unlawful assembly — resulting in four arrests.

“The violence yesterday at the Capitol is absolutely unacceptable,” Brown said. “I think we’re all a bit horrified that at the place of our state government, that it actually occurred yesterday.”

While it delayed the start of the special session, it did not derail the efforts to deal with the economic aspects of the coronavirus pandemic in Oregon.

“I am pleased that the legislature set aside $800 million that will allow the state to respond to the ongoing needs of the pandemic and wildfire response. These funds are critical to protect Oregon families and small businesses,” Brown said. “I am also glad they took up critical, COVID-19-related policy bills that will provide relief for tenants and landlords, extend the eviction moratorium, and create avenues to support restaurants and bars.”

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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