SENIOR VACCINATIONS LAG: Only two-thirds of Oregonians over age 65 have gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. That's far less than the 80% by March 31 that Oregon Health Authority officials projected when they moved up the date that older Oregonians would become eligible for the shots. That rate is also below the national average of 73% for one dose. There's a big difference in how many seniors have been vaccinated, depending on the county: 80% of seniors in Multnomah County have gotten at least a first shot while only 55% of seniors in Clackamas County have. "We have seen a slowing of vaccinations for seniors in some counties as more populations become eligible for the vaccine," says OHA spokesman Tim Heider. "Obviously, we like to see 100% of our seniors to be vaccinated, and we have enough doses to accomplish that. Seniors can access vaccine through the existing sources." OHA now says it expects close to 3 in 4 older Oregonians to have at least one shot by early April.
SCHOOL DISTRICT DIDN'T SURVEY CLASSROOM WINDOWS: Portland Public Schools will open for two-hour sessions for all elementary school grade levels by next week. In advance of reopening, the district has made multiple COVID-19 preparations. But one thing it has not done: surveyed the district's buildings to find out which windows can open—one key way to get fresh air into buildings. The district responded to a WW public records request for a list of windows that can open by saying it didn't have such a document. "We do not have any documents surveying windows," wrote Ryan Vandehey, PPS public records officer, on March 19. District spokeswoman Karen Werstein says PPS has other means of finding out about windows that won't open: Faculty and staff can report problems to the district on a case-by-case basis. But the district did hire a contractor to analyze air quality through "a representative sample of classrooms in every school," even though state reopening criteria do not require schools to meet specific air quality standards. PPS says the work began by March 18. "We are expecting a narrative report and a spreadsheet report for each school," Werstein says, "and we expect those reports to arrive as they write up the results, not all at once at the end. None have been received yet." The district plans to post those results.
STATE FINES BEND COFFEE SHOP MORE THAN $27,000: Oregon Occupational Safety & Health announced a $27,470 fine March 30 against Kevista Coffee in Bend for violating three workplace rules pertaining to COVID-19 safety. Nearly all of the fine—$26,700—was the result of one violation: The coffee shop owners, according to OSHA, opened for in-person dining on Dec. 3, 2020, at a time when indoor service was prohibited and Deschutes County was designated as "extreme risk" for the spread of the virus. "Most employers have chosen—and continue to choose—doing the right thing as we work to defeat this disease in Oregon," OSHA administrator Michael Wood said in a statement. "As for the vocal few who insist on defying standards and putting their workers at risk, we will continue to bring our enforcement tools to bear." It appears to be the second-largest COVID fine Oregon OSHA has issued. The agency said it has previously fined Kevista Coffee $8,900 in July, because the business "willfully fail[ed] to implement face coverings." Kevista Coffee did not respond to WW's request for comment by press deadline.
ACTIVISTS PREPARE TO BLOCK PARK SWEEP: About two dozen activists gathered at Laurelhurst Park on March 30 to physically block city hazardous waste removal contractors from sweeping more than 15 tents from the curb strip along Southeast Oak Street. It's the second time in six months that progressive activists have gathered to obstruct the removal of a homeless encampment from the iconic park in an affluent neighborhood. The last standoff lasted weeks, and activists say they're willing to stick it out that long again. The city contractor, Rapid Response Bio Clean, arrived Tuesday morning but left soon after, its two workers outnumbered by a crowd of people in masks, hoodies and track pants. The activists set about cooking up a hot breakfast of pancakes, potatoes and eggs on camp stoves.