SALEM, Ore. (AP) — All Oregon residents age 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on April 19, Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday morning.
The news coincides with an announcement from President Joe Biden that he is accelerating the deadline for states to open up COVID-19 vaccinations to every adult in the U.S. by April 19.
Last week Oregon and country officials warned of a fourth COVID-19 wave — expressing concerns about virus variants and the increase in cases.
Brown described the coming weeks as a “critical moment for all to double down so we can outrun this next wave.”
Officials say Oregon will pass the threshold of 2 million vaccines administered on Tuesday and is focused on vaccinating as many frontline workers and people with underlying conditions as possible in the next two weeks.
“And yet, in communities across Oregon, COVID-19 is spreading at concerning rates. We must move as quickly as possible to get more shots in arms,” Brown said in a statement.
People of color, who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, make up a large percentage of those groups, said Brown, a Democrat.
Hundreds of thousands of Oregonians became newly eligible for shots Monday, including frontline workers, their family members and those age 16 and up with underlying conditions.
Brown said she is working with the White House to make sure Oregon receives a fair share of the federal vaccine supply after the director of the Oregon Health Authority expressed concerns that the state wasn’t receiving as many doses per capita as other states, such as Kansas and Wyoming.
“We are locked in a race between vaccine distribution and the rapid spread of COVID-19 variants,” Brown said.
Multiple variants have been reported across the state and circulating since late 2020.
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, Brown announced on Tuesday that six counties are moving back a risk. These are counties where case counts and hospitalizations are increasing — including Clackamas and Multnomah, Oregon’s most populous. The other four counties are Deschutes, Klamath, Linn and Tillamook.
Beginning Friday, 14 counties will be in the “high risk” category, six in “moderate risk” and 16 at “lower risk”. The higher the category the more restrictions there are in the county.
In “high risk” counties — Benton, Clackamas, Coos, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah and Tillamook — indoor social gatherings are limited to six people and the maximum occupancy for indoor dining, indoor entertainment and gyms is 25% capacity or 50 people.
Cline is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.