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Oregon businesses should await OHA guidance on new CDC changes, officials say

Businesses will have the choice to check patrons' vaccination status to allow them to go without masks and physical distancing, state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said on Friday.

Posted: May 14, 2021 12:03 PM
Updated: May 14, 2021 5:31 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. — Though Governor Kate Brown said on Thursday that Oregon will embrace the CDC's newly-loosened mask and distancing guidance, Oregon officials say that the responsibility for verifying vaccination status will fall on businesses and other organizations if they want to follow the new recommendations.

State epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger held a briefing with members of the media on Friday, delivering an update on the current state of COVID-19 in Oregon and giving more information about how the state will handle the CDC changes. Sidelinger said that Oregon's daily COVID-19 case rate has been falling, if slowly, and hospitalizations have plateaued without seeing a significant drop.

Oregon's risk level framework and the benchmarks identified by Governor Brown on Tuesday will remain unchanged, Sidelinger said. Most restrictions will be lifted when 70 percent of adults have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and counties will be able to enter Lower Risk status when they hit 65 percent.

As to how Oregon will handle the CDC's guidance for fully vaccinated individuals, Sidelinger indicated that businesses will have the choice of whether to pursue that route. The Oregon Health Authority is still working on specific updated guidance for each business sector, but Sidelinger predicted that businesses who want to loosen masking or distancing requirements for vaccinated patrons will have to verify their vaccination status somehow — likely by checking vaccination cards, or pictures of cards.

Sidelinger asserted that vaccine verification will not violate health privacy laws because it will be voluntary on the part of customers. Anyone can still patronize a business, card-carrying or not, but they will have to follow the standard mask and distancing requirements established by the Oregon Health Authority's guidance unless they can show proof of vaccination.

With OHA guidance still forthcoming, Sidelinger did not go into detail about how this process will be enforced.

Businesses will still have the choice of adhering to current risk level requirements and eschewing the changes for vaccine verification entirely. What businesses can't do, Sidelinger said, is decide to serve only vaccinated or un-vaccinated customers.

Governor Kate Brown also weighed in on confusion surrounding the new guidance on Friday, putting out a brief statement on social media.

"Yesterday’s CDC announcement left many unanswered questions for states to sort out. Until we have vaccination verification guidance and procedures in place, businesses should continue following current guidance," Brown said. "While Oregon Health Authority updates guidance, everyone should follow posted mask and physical distancing requirements in businesses this weekend. Thank you for looking out for the health and safety of your fellow Oregonians."

As of this week, more than 2 million Oregonians had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 1.5 million fully vaccinated. Statewide, roughly 56.6 percent of people 16 and older are at least partially vaccinated. Vaccination rates at the county level vary from 31 to 65 percent.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 206777

Reported Deaths: 2754
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40354614
Washington26781248
Marion23425323
Clackamas18925235
Lane13896164
Jackson11535146
Deschutes1001582
Umatilla859387
Linn560380
Yamhill477879
Klamath477678
Polk399356
Douglas387982
Malheur361463
Josephine359872
Benton326422
Jefferson236839
Coos216637
Columbia191929
Union149824
Wasco144330
Lincoln143021
Crook129223
Hood River121933
Morrow115316
Clatsop10559
Baker101115
Curry70811
Tillamook6604
Grant5507
Lake4678
Harney4339
Wallowa1945
Gilliam801
Sherman671
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3808258

Reported Deaths: 63335
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles124761824454
Riverside3016034627
San Bernardino2992894844
San Diego2817493771
Orange2729225112
Santa Clara1201102188
Kern1107821404
Sacramento1076381731
Fresno1029221724
Alameda895921273
Ventura816381031
San Joaquin746861438
Contra Costa70561813
Stanislaus633871069
Tulare49814849
Monterey43831427
San Mateo42646581
San Francisco37256556
Santa Barbara34596455
Solano33707266
Merced32291478
Sonoma30868317
Imperial28813741
Placer23537299
Kings23189247
San Luis Obispo21421261
Madera16632245
Santa Cruz16235208
Marin14200230
Yolo14156212
Butte12659194
Shasta12630233
El Dorado10371116
Napa1002580
Sutter9656113
Yuba648551
San Benito610963
Lassen578424
Tehama573163
Nevada491075
Humboldt446348
Mendocino432150
Tuolumne420771
Amador373947
Lake356345
Glenn243427
Siskiyou239437
Colusa228418
Calaveras220156
Del Norte14568
Inyo143438
Mono12954
Plumas7366
Modoc5585
Mariposa4657
Trinity4225
Sierra1150
Alpine890
Unassigned330
Medford
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