No change to county risk level this week

Malheur County is more than halfway to 65% vaccination goal

Malheur County will remain at the High Risk level when updates are made to the state’s public health framework this Friday. During the two-week period from May 9-22, Malheur County reported 38 new cases of COVID-19, a marked decrease from the two periods prior. The case rate, or number of cases per 100,000 people, was 118.4 and test positivity rate was 7.8%. This week’s Risk Levels Summary Table is available here.

“The science is clear: vaccines are very effective in keeping people safe from COVID-19, and they are the key to returning to normal life and lifting health and safety restrictions statewide,” Gov. Kate Brown said in a news release on Tuesday. “This disease remains dangerous for those in communities with high rates of unvaccinated individuals. That’s why I’m encouraging all Oregonians to roll up your sleeves, take your shot, and get a chance to change your life. It’s never been easier to get vaccinated, and you may just end up a winner through the Take Your Shot, Oregon campaign.”

Last week, Gov. Brown unveiled the campaign aimed at incentivizing Oregonians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 through monetary prizes. A total of $1.86 million will be given away next month, and Oregonians age 12 and older who receive a dose of any of the three available vaccines by June 27 will be eligible to win.

“In this final push to reach every Oregonian with a vaccine and to meet our goal of at least 70% of adults vaccinated so that we can fully reopen our economy, we will need to pull on every lever we have. So, if you’ve been waiting to get a vaccine or you just haven’t gotten around to it yet, we’re going to give you an extra incentive. How about a chance to win a million dollars? Take Your Shot Oregon, roll up your sleeves, and get a chance to change your life,” Gov. Brown said during a press conference on May 21.

Statewide, 64.3% of adults had received a dose of vaccine as of May 25. Gov. Brown set the 70% goal earlier this month, saying that most restrictions would be lifted when it is reached. An additional goal of vaccinating 65% of people age 16 and older was set for each of the state’s 36 counties, enabling those that meet it to move into the Lower Risk level sooner than the rest of the state.

Malheur County is more than halfway to that goal, with 33.6% of the 16+ population vaccinated with at least one dose. The counties of Benton, Hood River, Multnomah, Washington and Lincoln have reached the 65% goal.

“Lincoln County was just over 100 vaccines away from their goal last Friday morning, and by noon they had reached it. They are going into the upcoming holiday weekend with minimal restrictions on their economy and confidence that the majority of their population is protected from the virus. We can achieve the same in Malheur County,” said Sarah Poe, director of the Malheur County Health Department. “Anyone who is unable to get to a vaccine can call the Health Department to request a home visit. We also offer worksite vaccination, and we have staff who are fluent in both English and Spanish. We are working with our community partners to ensure that vaccines are accessible to everyone age 12 and up, no matter where you are in Malheur County or what your individual needs might be.”

At last count, 8,539 of the 16,534 people who make up 65% of the 16+ population in Malheur County have received a dose of vaccine, leaving 7,995 to reach the goal. This information is available on Oregon Health Authority’s data dashboard, COVID-19 Vaccination Governor’s Goal.

For more information, or to inquire about a home or worksite vaccine, call 541-889-7279.

Governor announces vaccination goals for reopening local economies

Governor Kate Brown today announced new metrics for reopening the economy, saying that when 70% of Oregonians 16 and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, most risk-level restrictions would be lifted. She said she felt confident that the goal would be reached by the end of June. A Governor’s Office news release is available here.

Additionally, beginning May 21, counties that reach 65% vaccination of residents 16 and older will have the option to move to Lower Risk by submitting a plan to close equity gaps in vaccination. Two counties have already reached 65%, four are above 60%, and five are above 55%. In Malheur County, current data shows that just over 31% of the eligible population has been vaccinated. That number does not include the estimated 1,800 Malheur County residents who received a vaccine in Idaho but the additional doses, once factored in, still aren’t enough to hit the target.

“Best case is that 39% of our eligible population has received at least one dose of vaccine,” Malheur County Health Department Director Sarah Poe said. “That means we still have thousands of people who need to be vaccinated.”

The Governor’s announcement comes a day after the Oregon Health Authority posted the latest Risk Level Metrics report showing Malheur County’s two-week case count at 64, up from 37 the week prior. School outbreaks make up the majority of the cases, but there continues to be sporadic infection throughout the community as well. COVID-19-related deaths are also rising locally. Four people have died since mid-April: a female in her 50s, a female in her 80s, a male in his 60s, and a male in his 80s.

Gov. Brown also announced new county risk levels today. Malheur County will remain at High Risk. A complete list of counties and their risk levels is available here.

State announces timeline for remaining COVID-19 vaccine phases

Oregon Governor Kate Brown today shared the state’s timeline for vaccinating Oregon’s remaining eligible populations against COVID-19. By July 1, all Oregonians will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Oregon’s seniors age 65 and older will continue to be prioritized through March 29.

To date, more than 194,000 Oregonians age 65+ have received at least one dose of vaccine – roughly 1 out of every 3 seniors, according to Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen.

“We’re staying true to our commitment to seniors,” Allen said, adding that the state expects that it will have been allocated enough vaccine to vaccinate at least 75% of all seniors by March 29, “weeks ahead of the original timeline.”

Provided supplies from the federal government continue as planned, the timeline is as follows:

No later than March 29, the following Oregonians will be eligible:

  • Adults age 45-64 with one or more CDC-defined underlying health condition with increased risk
  • Migrant seasonal farmworkers, seafood and agricultural workers, and food processing workers
  • People living in low-income senior housing, senior congregate and independent living
  • Individuals experiencing homelessness who are sheltered and unsheltered
  • Wildland firefighters
  • Currently displaced wildfire victims

No later than May 1, the following Oregonians will be eligible:

  • Adults age 16-44 with one or more CDC-defined underlying health conditions with increased risk
  • Frontline workers as defined by the CDC/CISA with Oregon-specific modifications, including grocery store employees, members of the media, public transit workers, postal service employees, and many more.
  • Multigenerational household members

Vaccine is expected to be available to the general population in the following sequence:

  • No later than June 1, Oregonians ages 45-64
  • No later than July 1, all Oregonians

“Our team in Malheur County is excited to see the timeline from the governor’s office for making the COVID-19 vaccine accessible to everyone over age 16 in our county by July. We have already seen the effects of increased immunity in our community, decreasing case rates and risk of exposure. We encourage everyone to access the vaccine as soon as they are eligible,” Malheur County Health Department Director Sarah Poe said.

The timeline is representative of the intent of the Vaccine Advisory Committee and consistent with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, said Rachael Banks, director of OHA’s Public Health Division. The Vaccine Advisory Committee, she said, recognized structural racism and the impacts it has on black, indigenous, and people of color communities and refugee communities.

Gov. Brown noted the significance of today’s press conference, saying that this Sunday marks one year since the first reported case of COVID-19 in Oregon. She said that while case counts and hospitalizations are steadily declining, variants are still a concern and people must continue to make smart choices – wear a mask, physically distance, and limit social gatherings.

Watch Gov. Brown’s press conference here.