CORONAVIRUS, Government, Oregon

State reopens, lifting most COVID-19 restrictions

File photo: Chas Hundley

Oregon’s risk level framework and the majority of masking, capacity, and social distancing measures were lifted Wednesday, June 30, doing away with the majority of the state’s mandatory precautions to fight the coronavirus. 

“Today, we celebrate Oregon’s strength, resilience, and collaboration,” said Governor Brown during a ceremony on Wednesday marking the occasion. “We celebrate brighter days ahead. And, today we celebrate that Oregon is 100% open for business.”

“I look forward to seeing Oregon’s restaurants and Main Street businesses flourish as vibrant community cornerstones. We are all excited to celebrate the July 4th holiday weekend with family and friends. And I smile at the thought of our children going back to the classroom, five days a week this fall.”

“This is truly a historic moment for our state. However, while we enter a new chapter today, our work is far from over.”

“We will be relentless in our efforts to finish the job, closing our equity gaps, and reaching every Oregonian with information and vaccines. That means we need to continue this education effort, person to person, neighbor to neighbor. We remain fiercely committed in our efforts to build a more just and equitable, and a safer and stronger Oregon.”

“Thank you, Oregon, for everything you’ve done to look out for one another and bring us to this day.”

According to the most recent Oregon Health Authority statistics, Oregon’s COVID-19 death toll lies at 2,774.

“I’m deeply proud of all the people at the Oregon Health Authority (especially in our public health division), in the COVID Response and Recovery Unit and at our sister state agencies who responded to this great pandemic of our lifetime,” said OHA Director Pat Allen. He closed his remarks with a remembrance of the lives lost from the virus. 

“I want to acknowledge that it can be hard to grasp all that the virus has taken from us and bear the sorrow it has left behind. In Oregon, we’ve lost 2,770 family, friends, neighbors and coworkers who died with COVID-19,” he said.

“If we took just one minute to honor each person we’ve lost, we’d stand a vigil that would last more than 46 hours. And that 46 hours is just a fraction of the lifetimes left unlived, the joys left unfelt, the togetherness left unshared.”

With the restrictions lifted, some businesses may still require masks, and places like healthcare settings, airports and public transit may still require masks. 

The framework and safety measures could have ended sooner, if the state were to hit the target of 70% of Oregon adults vaccinated with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

That scenario was unlikely due to a slowing rate of vaccinations and the fact that many clinics were closing in the face of record-breaking temperatures experienced over the weekend. And by Tuesday, June 29, it was clear that the state would not meet the 70% target. 

As of Wednesday, the state still remains more than 16,000 people away from hitting the mark.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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