Multnomah County Will Wait at Least an Extra Week to Reopen

County officials are opting to wait to apply to the state for lower risk status even if they hit the 65% vaccination benchmark.

Data on the Oregon Health Authority website shows Multnomah County is poised to hit the state’s vaccination-rate benchmark that would allow it to reopen businesses more widely.

Gov. Kate Brown is expected to formally announce tomorrow which counties have met the metric to move to lower risk. At least 65% of people over the age of 16 in a county must have at least one dose for the county to reopen businesses more fully.

Multnomah County now has 64.7% of residents vaccinated, according to OHA data.

In addition to hitting the vaccination metric, counties must also submit a plan for equitable vaccinations of at-risk groups.

And that’s the catch: Multnomah County has already opted against reopening May 21, the first day possible. Officials will instead push to reopen by May 28, Memorial Day weekend.

The state began taking applications May 14.

“The health of our whole community hinges on the health of each of our communities, and that’s why the equity component of the state’s newest framework must be developed intentionally,” Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said in a statement posted to the county’s website May 13. “And that is going to take more than three days.”

The stakes attached to reopening include the capacity allowed inside sports and entertainment venues.

Under current rules, indoor stadiums must operate at 10% capacity. Under lower risk guidance, those venues can open at 50% capacity. Restaurants would move from 25% to 50% capacity indoors.

So the effect of Multnomah County waiting a week is that the Portland Trail Blazers’ first home playoff game—which will likely happen May 26 or 27—will have no more than 1,939 people in attendance. Once the county hits a lower risk level, as many as 9,500 fans could return.