Residents in Lane County are one step closer to a total re-open.
On June 8, Gov. Kate Brown announced that Lane County — and two other counties — can start reopening after hitting the 65 percent vaccination rate. The next step now is for the whole state to hit the 70 percent vaccination rate to start re-opening more.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Lane County Chair Joe Berney said at a June 8 press conference. “Lane County can now move permanently under the governor’s framework to low risk.”
Lane County asked the governor’s office to begin re-opening immediately, Berney said at the press conference, and she OK’d it. The county will be considered lower risk starting 12:01 am Wednesday, June 9, Berney added.
“We can now begin to enjoy another major step toward normal life,” he said. “But our work isn’t complete.” There are more people who need to be vaccinated, he added, and the state needs to hit the 70 percent mark to start re-opening.
In addition to Lane, Coos and Wasco counties are the other newcomers to the lower risk category. There’s now a total of nine counties that are considered lower risk by the state. When a county is at low risk, events such as outdoor live concerts, indoor restaurants, theaters and gyms can be at 50 percent capacity.
The vaccination counts include residents who have received at least one shot — whether it’s the start of the Pfizer and Moderna series or the single shot Johnson & Johnson. According to Centers for Disease Control researchers, one shot of the Pfizer or Moderna series can be about 82 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19 cases, though two shots are 92 percent effective.
Brown said in a June 8 press release that the state needs less than 100,000 more residents to be partially vaccinated to hit the mark.
At the Lane County press conference Berney said that “as a community, we’ve moved mountains.” More than 200,000 people in Lane County were vaccinated — from residents as young as 10 years old — he added, and since the first vaccine was delivered in December 2020, he added, there have been more than 384,000 vaccines shot in the arms of residents, creating the conditions for reduced community spread.
Even though the county has hit the 65 percent milestone, he said there’s still more work to do. “If we can get to 70 percent vaccination, you have done a patriotic duty because then the state of Oregon opens,” Berney said. “We’re literally done with this.”