SALEM, Ore. — In a press conference on Tuesday, Governor Kate Brown outlined Oregon's next benchmarks for reducing coronavirus restrictions throughout the state, which will be directly tied to vaccination targets.
Brown's office said that "most" COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted when 70 percent of Oregon's population 16 and older has received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Mask and physical distancing requirements are likely to persist in some form even after this benchmark is reached, with Brown's office pledging to evaluate those remaining mandates based on CDC recommendations and Oregon's "conditions and experience."
“Thanks to you, Oregon, it looks like we’ve crossed the tipping point of the fourth surge,” said Governor Brown. "Our hospitalization rates have stabilized. Our infection rates are on a downward trajectory. And in the race between vaccines and variants, our efforts to vaccinate Oregonians are taking the lead."
Brown said that more than half of Oregon adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with the state expected to have reached two million people this week.
"We still have some work to do to reach our 70 percent goal, but I am confident we can get there in June and return Oregon to a sense of normalcy," Brown continued.
In the meantime, individual counties will have the option to see loosened restrictions based on vaccination progress. Starting May 21, counties that have reached 65 percent of residents 16 and older with a first dose can move to Lower Risk. Counties will also have to submit a plan to the Oregon Health Authority detailing their efforts to close vaccination equity gaps.
Brown previously pledged to take Extreme Risk restrictions off the table, but the state will otherwise resume risk level movement every two weeks. As of May 14, 21 Oregon counties will remain in High Risk, with seven at Moderate Risk, and eight counties at Lower Risk.
In southern Oregon, this means that counties will see a plateau in restrictions for at least the next two weeks. Jackson, Josephine, and Klamath counties will remain at High Risk, with Curry County at Moderate Risk, and Lake County at Lower Risk.
Despite COVID-19 vaccines becoming increasingly available in southern Oregon, the available data suggests that local counties are still far from reaching the 65 percent vaccination target set by Governor Brown as demand continues to plateau.
According to data distributed by the Oregon Department of Education last week, southern Oregon counties had provided at least first doses to people 16 and older as follows: 45 percent in Curry County, 39 percent in Josephine County, 44 percent in Jackson County, 38 percent in Klamath County, and 31 percent in Lake County.
Several Oregon counties have already reached 65 percent of adults or are within striking distance of the goal, according to OHA director Patrick Allen.