As vaccinations pick up, Marion County sees Covid cases again falling

Oregon National Guard member Carson Mather readies his vaccination station for the next vaccine recipient during a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Oregon State Fairgrounds on Thursday, Jan. 28. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Covid cases in Marion County are seeing a downward trend and vaccines will soon be more widely available at local doctors and clinics.

The news came during a Marion County Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday a day after Gov. Brown announced that she would begin lifting most Covid restrictions after 70% of Oregonians 16 and older received their first vaccination shot.

During the meeting, Chad Ball, county policy analyst, said that between April 25 and May 8, the last two-week period used the measure the virus’ spread, there were 219 new Covid cases per 100,000 county residents with 8.3% of Covid tests positive for the virus. He said the Covid case rates decreased in the county by 11.1% for the most recent two-week period.

“So we’re starting to see a downward trend, which is really nice to hear,” he said.

He said the bulk of the cases are still coming from south, northeast and central Salem, as well as Brooks and Keizer. Ball also pointed out that counties can move to the “low risk” level of restrictions once a county reaches a 65% vaccination rate of residents 16 and older.

“Currently, our county is at 50%,” he said. “We need about 36,000 more individuals to receive the vaccine to hit that 65% mark and then we could move to low.”

Ball said that while the vaccine is the best way to prevent Covid, Marion County has had 87 breakthrough cases where someone inoculated has still contracted the virus. He said that is still less than 1% of all fully vaccinated people.

Marion County Commissioner Kevin Cameron added that in addition to meeting the 65% vaccination rate, counties must also submit a plan on how it will reach out to underserved populations, which he said is in the works.

“It’s great news that we’re that close,” he said.

Marion County Commissioner Danielle Bethell said that the state will begin moving vaccine doses to primary care providers and encouraged people to reach out to their doctor now for an appointment.

“We’re moving away from the model of the big fairground type vaccine clinics to smaller clinics within the community to primary care physicians,” Ball said. 

The mass vaccination site at the Oregon State Fairgrounds has free walk-in appointments and has not announced plans to wrap up operations.

According to numbers from the Oregon Health Authority released Wednesday, the state has seen a seven-day running average of 34,869 vaccine doses administered per day, which includes first and second shots. About 430,000 Oregonians need to get their first shot in order to meet the 70% target.

“Based on our current trends, Oregon is on track to meet our goal of vaccinating 70% of adults by mid- to late-June,” said Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen, in a statement. “Thanks to all of our partners for helping us stay ahead of a virus that is circulating in our communities.”

Despite the progress, there were still calls for Brown to move faster in lifting the restrictions. State Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, took to Twitter to call attention to how Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine would lift pandemic orders, including the mask mandate, by June 2.

Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.

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