OHA director marks 1 year since first case of COVID-19 in Oregon with open letter to residents

Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen released an open letter to Oregonians on Sunday to mark the one-year anniversary of Oregon’s first COVID-19 case. He asks state residents to maintain pandemic precautions and choose to be vaccinated. Read the letter here.

“But there’s another number Oregonians should bear in mind, especially as we confront the coming months of the pandemic: 4,000. That’s approximately the number of lives you’ve saved by wearing a mask, limiting in-person gatherings and maintaining social distance.”

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.