By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

County moves to a lower risk level, expands vaccinations

In addition, the county has been approved to start offering vaccinations to the next group of eligible people: Those 45 and older who have underlying conditions; seasonal and migrant farmworkers; food processing workers; people who are homeless; people who live in low income or congregate senior housing; wildland firefighters; people displaced by wildfires, and women and girls 16 or older, who are pregnant.

County Public Health and the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center are scheduling clinics to vaccinate people at agricultural sites and food processing plants, according to the county’s newsletter. The county is also planning to hold vaccination clinics at homeless shelters, it said.

The county announced six new cases Thursday, bringing it to a total of 3,896 to date. There have been 70 deaths in the county.

Statewide, as of Wednesday, Oregon was seeing an average of 311 new cases a day, and had reached 162,384 cases, and 2,368 deaths. Nationwide, there have been more than 30 million cases, and 545,726 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The county received more than 2,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine this week, according to the county Health and Human Services Department, along with 1,210 doses provided to pharmacies, and 700 directly to doctors’ offices.

The county said it intended to provide additional doses to local doctors as well.

It said it is still expecting its weekly allocation to increase, possibly as early as next week, and is hoping to receive several thousand.

The county said in its weekly press release that it believes about 55% of adults 65 and older have been vaccinated in the county, as of March 15, and that it believes more have been vaccinated since then. It said it had administered vaccine shots to 24,705 people, as of Wednesday.

The lower risk category means slightly loosened restrictions; while restaurants will still be limited to 50% capacity, indoor diners may now seat eight people at a table, up from six, and restaurants and bars may close at midnight, instead of 11 p.m.

Funeral homes and churches may operate at 75% capacity, instead of 50%, and may have up to 300 people at outdoor events. Outdoor entertainment venues such as zoos and gardens, and outdoor recreational venues such as pools, gyms and sports events may operate at 50%, instead of 25% capacity.

Businesses may offer some limited onsite office work.

Social gatherings may include up to 10 people from up to four households indoors, and 12 people outdoors.

However, masks and social distancing are still required statewide, and curbside pickup is still recommended for shopping.

The move to a lower risk category comes as the CDC and World Health Organization are warning that cases and deaths have been increasing worldwide, and cases have been rising in most states in this country.

Cases dropped slightly in Oregon in the last week, after increasing the previous week, however deaths increased. Testing has also decreased in Oregon, and on March 19, Yamhill County announced it had canceled its remaining testing clinics for the month.


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