COVID-19 in Oregon: A moment of promise and peril

On April 23, Governor Kate Brown was joined by Director of the Oregon Health Authority Patrick Allen and State Health Officer and State Epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger to provide an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Oregon.

At this moment, Director Allen said, Oregon faces both “promise and peril.”

“The COVID-19 virus is surging and it is threatening to send more people — and younger people — to the hospital than we’ve seen before in this pandemic,” said Director Allen.

Director Allen also emphasized the need to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine to underserved communities and pledged to work with partners to ensure no community is left behind.

“We’ll continue to expand vaccinations through Federally Qualified Health Centers, events for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and food processors, mobile van outreach and local events sponsored by community partners,” said Director Allen.

Despite the surge and a waning demand for vaccination in some counties, Director Allen remained hopeful about Oregon’s future.

“We can enjoy a safer summer and get back to the people we love and the things we love to do — if all of us do our part. The best way to put the pandemic behind us is to take this simple, direct action: Get vaccinated.”

Oregon’s vaccination numbers, current as of April 23, looked promising: 

  • According to the CDC, half of Oregon’s adult population had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • More than 1 million Oregonians had been fully vaccinated.
  • 3 in 4 seniors had been vaccinated.
  • Oregon is on track to vaccinate 8 out of 10 people in Oregon by July 4, if the current rate of immunizations is sustained.

Red alert in latest COVID-19 forecast

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, referencing the most recent COVID-19 forecast released by OHA, indicated that the spread of COVID-19 was accelerating throughout the state, driven by more transmissible variants and our actions.

As of April 23, daily cases, percent positivity and hospitalizations were continuing to rise sharply throughout Oregon.

“A fourth wave is upon us,” said Dr. Sidelinger. He warned that if spread continues at this rate, Oregon hospitals risk being swamped by virus- stricken patients, and counties could return to higher risk levels.

He urged people in Oregon to act now to contain the virus.

“We can slow the virus by continuing to wear masks, gather more safely and maintain physical distancing,” said Dr. Sidelinger. “And, of course, by getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Twelve counties could move back to Extreme Risk next week

As Oregon faces a fourth surge of COVID-19, Governor Kate Brown announced that 12 counties could move back to Extreme Risk on Friday, April 30 without an intervening “warning week.” Decisions will be made early next week after county data has been analyzed.

The county risk level framework uses four different risk levels for counties based on COVID-19 spread — Extreme Risk, High Risk, Moderate Risk and Lower Risk — and assigns health and safety measures for each level. Usually, county risk levels are reassigned every two weeks and the first week’s data provides a “warning week” to prepare counties for potential risk level changes.

To learn more about today’s media briefing, you can: