As COVID-19 cases stabilize across the state, Oregon health officials are continuing to encourage residents to get vaccinated against the virus.
Dr. Dean Sidelinger, Oregon’s state health officer noted in a brief update Friday that the state’s number of weekly cases has declined for the first time in five weeks, and that daily new cases and virus-related hospitalizations have fallen slightly from their mid-April peaks.
“Thank you Oregonians, for helping in these improvements, getting vaccinated and continuing to take precautions to reduce the spread: Wearing your mask, keeping your distance and limiting higher-risk gatherings,” Sidelinger said.
Still, Sidelinger said highly transmissible variants of the virus were present in the state, and that new cases tend to be among younger, unvaccinated individuals.
“We are seeing an increase in people who get sick in the community and then attend school. Safety measures in place in school have limited the spread, but students who are exposed need to quarantine in case they get sick, and this is disruptive to their education, particularly at a time when many just recently returned to in-person education,” Sidelinger said.
He also noted a state report from earlier in the week, which showed that only around 600 of the 1.3 million in the state who’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine have subsequently tested positive for the virus.
“Any case of COVID-19 can be serious, but the report shows that a vast majority of the cases involved mild or no symptoms at all. This is a strong endorsement for getting the COVID-19 vaccine,” Sidelinger said. “COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective. They represent our best chance at defeating this virus.”
Earlier in the week, Gov. Kate Brown announced the slowing rate of hospitalizations took the state below the extreme-risk threshold, meaning 15 counties were eligible to move out of the state’s highest level of virus restrictions.
The move meant, as of Friday, indoor dining was open statewide at limited capacity, with 24 counties (including Clatsop, Columbia, Douglas and Lincoln counties) in the high-risk category, four (including Coos, Curry and Tillamook) in the moderate-risk category and eight in the low-risk category.
Brown Thursday also announced some minor changes to the state’s risk level framework, increasing the allowable capacity of indoor recreation and fitness establishments.
Those in moderate-risk counties may open to 20% or 100 people total (whichever is larger), and those in high-risk counties may open to 10% or 50 people total (whichever is larger).