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Health and Medicine

Gov. Brown Confirms Plan To Lift Mask Mandate When Oregon Hits Vaccine Benchmark

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown at an April 9 mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Portland. On Thursday, the governor extended Oregon's pandemic emergency declaration.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown at an April 9 mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Portland. On Thursday, the governor extended Oregon's pandemic emergency declaration.

Oregon currently plans to lift most restrictions once 70% of the state’s adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination. As of Thursday, 67.2% of eligible adults are vaccinated.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown confirmed her intention Friday to lift the state’s mask mandate once the reaches its vaccination benchmark, which will then leave individuals and businesses free to make their own decisions about masks.

Oregon currently plans to lift most restrictions once 70% of the state’s adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination. As of Thursday, 67.2% of eligible adults were vaccinated.

At a press briefing Friday, Brown reiterated that she is “very concerned” about communities and populations that have not yet had sufficient access to the vaccine. Although progress has been made closing the vaccine equity gap, the percentage of people vaccinated varies wildly from county to county — and even ZIP code to ZIP code.

Lane County passed a vaccination milestone this week: Over 65% of its eligible adults have received a first dose. Clackamas County is not far behind, Brown said. Once that benchmark is passed, Lane and Clackamas counties can move into “lower-risk” restrictions. Benton, Deschutes, Hood River, Lincoln, Multnomah and Washington counties are the only other counties to have reached that goal.

That means 29 of Oregon’s 36 counties have not yet reached that particular benchmark. But when the state hits the 70% vaccination rate benchmark, which is expected to happen sometime in the next few weeks, they will also reopen, regardless of vaccination levels and the amount of COVID-19 spreading locally.

“We still have more work to do to ensure all Oregonians are healthy and protected from COVID-19,” Brown said.

Brown announced additional incentives to encourage the vaccine-hesitant to go get their first shot. Anyone who receives their first vaccine dose Friday at the drive-through vaccination site near Portland International Airport will be given a $100 gift card, while supplies last. The same offer will be available Saturday at the mass vaccination clinic at the Oregon Convention Center.

Although many businesses could soon reopen fully, the economic damage from the COVID-19 pandemic still lingers. Brown said she has extended Oregon’s foreclosure moratorium until Sept. 30.

She was unable to extend the eviction moratorium, which will expire at the end of June.

Oregonians currently have until next year to pay off any late rent accrued between April 2020 and June 2021. But all renters will need to pay their July rent, or face eviction. Brown encouraged those who might be unable to pay rent this July to apply for federally-funded rent assistance, through oregonrentalassistance.org.

The number of new COVID-19 cases went down across Oregon for the sixth straight week. Deaths and hospitalizations have also continued to decrease.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.