Day: May 11, 2021

Governor Kate Brown Sets Vaccination Targets for Oregon to Begin to More Fully Reopen Economy

Most restrictions to be lifted statewide when 70% of Oregonians 16 and older receive first dose

Beginning May 21, counties eligible for option to move to Lower Risk when 65% of county residents 16 and older receive first dose and submit plan to close vaccine equity gaps

County Risk level movements announced for Friday, May 14: Three counties move down to Moderate Risk

Governor Kate Brown today announced vaccination targets to more fully reopen Oregon’s economy, setting a 70% statewide goal to reach Oregonians 16 and older with a first dose to lift most Risk Level restrictions. Additionally, beginning on May 21, counties will have the option of moving to the Lower Risk level once 65% of county residents 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose, and counties have submitted a complete plan to close equity gaps in vaccination.

“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.

“We still have some work to do to reach our 70% goal, but I am confident we can get there in June and return Oregon to a sense of normalcy.

“So Oregon, this is our goal. We each play a part. If you have already been vaccinated, thank you. Now help a friend, family member or neighbor make an appointment. Spread the word that folks can call 2-1-1 or visit for more information.”

Statewide lifting of Risk Level framework

Statewide, the Governor announced her goal that Oregon reach 70% of the population 16 and older with a first vaccine dose in order to more fully reopen Oregon’s economy by lifting most of the health and safety restrictions imposed by the Risk Level framework.
• After achieving 70%, Oregon may continue requiring some use of masks and physical distancing and will continue to evaluate the use of these tools as we learn more from the CDC and evaluate Oregon’s COVID-19 conditions and experience.
• All other health and safety requirements for counties under the Risk Level framework will be lifted, and counties will no longer be assigned risk levels. (Oregon public schools will still be required to follow Ready Schools, Safe Learners health and safety requirements, with the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education updating that guidance for the 2021-22 school year to lift most restrictions based on CDC guidance.)
• Statewide, Oregon must continue to work towards closing equity gaps for communities of color.

Counties eligible for option to move to Lower Risk, beginning May 21

Beginning May 21, the Governor announced, counties will have the option to move weekly to the Lower Risk health and safety restrictions in Oregon’s Risk Level Framework. County movements will be announced on May 18. To move to Lower Risk, counties must:
• Reach 65% of the county population 16 or older with a first vaccine dose.
• Submit a complete plan to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) which details how the county will close the equity gaps in their vaccination efforts.
• Counties will be eligible for state resources to help achieve these goals, and will be eligible for additional funding as they demonstrate making progress towards closing their equity gaps.

County Risk Level movements, effective May 14

Governor Brown today also announced updates to county risk levels under the state’s public health framework to reduce transmission and protect Oregonians from COVID-19. This week, Grant, Lincoln, and Wasco counties will move to the Moderate Risk level, down from High Risk. Effective Friday, May 14, 21 counties will remain in High Risk, 7 counties will be in Moderate Risk, and 8 counties will be in Lower Risk.

A complete list of counties and their risk levels is available here.

With Oregon no longer meeting the statewide hospitalization metrics for Extreme Risk, following this week, Oregon will return to a two-week cycle for risk level changes for counties that have not vaccinated at least 65% of their population. Following the announcement of county movements to Lower Risk based on reaching vaccination goals on May 18, the next risk level changes will be announced on Tuesday, May 25, to take effect on Friday, May 28.

Additional Materials
• A copy of the Governor’s prepared remarks from today’s press conference is available here.
• More information on vaccines is available at

Video Links
• A recording of today’s live-streamed press conference is available on YouTube. Please note the video starts at the 18:09 mark.
• A recording of a Spanish language translation is available on OHA’s Facebook page.
• An HD recording of today’s press conference for members of the media is available on Vimeo.

Variants and the rise in COVID-19 cases

You may be wondering why cases have been on the rise recently, especially as we see an increase in vaccination across the state. There are two answers to this question – variants that are more transmissible and increased social gatherings without face coverings. 

Sequencing of COVID-19 variants allows scientists to monitor how the COVID-19 virus changes over time into new variants, and to understand how these changes affect characteristics of the virus such as how easily the virus spreads or how many severe infections it causes. They use this information to predict and to measure how these changes might affect the spread of COVID-19. 

Read more about variants on the OHA blog. 

FDA Authorizes vaccine for use in kids age 12 to 15

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) extended emergency use authorization to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people ages 12-15. This approval will be reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). ACIP will make a recommendation to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director who will issue guidance for administering the vaccine to this age group. The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup (WSSSRW) will discuss the data and review process in order to issue a memo to governors from participating states. ACIP and the WSSSRW meet on May 12.  

In anticipation of recommendations for administration of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to this age group, OHA is working with health care providers, pharmacies, community-based organizations and school districts to make the Pfizer vaccine readily available for eligible youth throughout the state. We will continue our focus on making culturally relevant resources about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines available so students and parents can make informed decisions about protecting themselves and their families. Our recommendation is that all eligible people in Oregon get vaccinated, and that, until we have sufficient numbers vaccinated, everyone follow public health safety guidance. 

You can read more about Emergency Use Authorization on the OHA blog