Facing an increase in cases and renewed questions about the effort to vaccinate Oregonians equitably, Gov. Kate Brown on Friday urged Oregonians to halt the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks, socially distancing and getting a vaccine.
She did not announce new policy steps to combat the virus or to vaccinate more people.
“We must keep our eyes on the horizon and honor the personal responsibility we all share to follow public health safety measures,” said Brown.
The state’s epidemiologist warned that daily COVID-19 cases have “more than doubled” in just over a month. “Recent data are troubling,” says Dr. Dean Sidelinger, noting a 20% increase in cases for each of the past three weeks.
Sidelinger also mentioned three instances of large social events that resulted in outbreaks that raised questions about the spread of the disease. People failed to wear masks and socially distance, Sidelinger said.
The outbreaks included “a multinight karaoke event that led to 36 cases, three of whom were hospitalized, and tragically, one death,” he said. He also listed an indoor concert that led to 15 cases, and “a backyard gathering with 10 people with all of them falling ill.”
The last is notable in part because documented cases of outdoor infection have been exceedingly rare. The press conference did not include more details about the event. The Oregon Health Authority did not respond to a request late Friday for details.
The state pledged to work with community groups to make vaccine distribution more equitable, but stopped short of offering details of how it would change course after a group of Latinx leaders on April 15 criticized the state’s effort to vaccinate that ethnic demographic.
OHA director Pat Allen acknowledged a “profound shortcoming.” Allen added: “OHA and our partners need to do more.”
As WW reported last month, the way the state has rolled out the vaccine has disadvantaged Latinx Oregonians.
All Oregonians who are 16 or older are eligible for a vaccine as of Monday, April 19.