Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Economic forecast predicts higher incomes and recovering labor market

May 20, 2021 at 4:35pm

Salem Health will scale down mass vaccination sites, distribute Covid vaccine to clinics and smaller events

People wait in line under a tent for the COVID-19 vaccine clinic during a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Oregon State Fairgrounds on Thursday, Jan. 28. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Salem Health will shrink the size of its mass vaccination clinic at the Oregon State Fairgrounds starting May 25 and expects to stop offering first doses of Covid vaccine there in early June.

Covid vaccines are available at Salem Health's medical clinics, and the health care provider is adding additional mobile vaccine clinic events open to the public in the coming weeks, hoping to reach people who might find traveling to get a shot difficult. Receiving a Covid vaccine is free and does not require health insurance.

A list of clinic locations and vaccination events open to the public is on the Salem Health website. They include an event Friday, May 21 at Four Corners Elementary School in southeast Salem, 500 Elma Ave. S.E., from 2-6 p.m.

The hospital announced its plans in a statement Thursday, saying demand for vaccinations has been falling at both the Salem site and a Polk County vaccination site on the Western Oregon University campus. Since the fairgrounds site opened in early January, it has administered more than 200,000 vaccines.

"At its peak, the vaccine clinic at the fairgrounds averaged 4,000 doses per day. Last week, the average was 2,150 doses per day and this week, an average of about 1,400 doses per day. For this week and last week, 76% of volume is second doses. Salem Health continues to see a strong return rate for second doses with 97 percent returning within one week of their second dose due date," Salem Health spokeswoman Lisa Wood said in an email.

The announcement comes as state and local health officials have said Covid vaccine efforts will shift more toward doctor's offices, clinics and targeted events, rather than mass vaccination sites.

At the state fairgrounds, vaccines will remain available by appointment or walk-in Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the day's last walk-in appointments at 4 p.m. The clinic entrance and exit will shift to Sunnyview Road Northeast, the announcement said.

Starting June 2, the vaccination site at Western Oregon University will scale down to two days per week, Wednesday and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Marion County still needs more than 32,000 adults to get their first dose of Covid vaccine to hit a target set by Gov. Kate Brown for loosening most Covid restrictions. Brown said counties could move to "low risk" Covid restrictions, allowing increased capacity in restaurants, theaters and other venues, once 65% of adults had received their first dose of vaccine. Polk County needs about 3,900 more residents to get their first shot to meet that goal.

Once 70% of eligible Oregonians have received their first Covid shot, Brown said she would lift nearly all Covid restrictions statewide. The state is currently at 62.7%, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Correction: This article incorrectly listed the street for the new entrance for the vaccination clinic at the fairgrounds. It is Sunnyview Road Northeast, not Sunnyside Road Northeast. Salem Reporter regrets the error.

-Rachel Alexander

May 20, 2021 at 4:35pm

Willamette Humane Society receives grant to continue saving animals

Rapunzel, a three-year-old domestic shorthair, awaits adoption at the Willamette Humane Society, which is allowing adoptions by appointment only. (Courtesy/Willamette Humane Society)

The Willamette Humane Society received a $22,000 grant from nonprofit Petco Love to continue saving animals in Marion and Polk counties.

Erin Weldon, development and community engagement director, said the funding will help pay for operational costs which have risen as the nonprofit takes on more medical and behavioral care for the dogs and cats in the shelter.

She said the reason they applied for the grant is that is costs more to save an animal than it used to.

"We’re treating for a lot of conditions that wouldn’t have been treatable in the past,” she said.

The shelter is doing in-house care for respiratory conditions and other health problems like ringworm which takes more than a month to treat.

Weldon said the Humane Society is also doing more behavior training, like for dogs with mild aggression or needed potty training.

“That lends to more time spent in the shelter,” she said.  

In 2019-20, the humane society had 2,897 adoptions and spayed and neutered 5,718 animals, including shelter pets, owned animals, and community cats.

“Petco Love joins our dedicated donors to invest in Willamette Humane Society programs, pets, and people. We’re so thankful for the support and partnership,” said Executive Director BJ Andersen in a prepared statement. 

-Saphara Harrell

May 20, 2021 at 9:30am

State economic forecast predicts higher incomes, tax revenues and a recovered labor market

Oregonians have more money than before the pandemic and the state’s labor market will return to full health over the next two years. 

Those are two takeaways from the quarterly economic revenue forecast released Tuesday. 

According to the forecast, Oregonians' incomes are 20% higher than before the pandemic because of unprecedented federal aid. Incomes have also returned to pre-pandemic levels and will grow 6 to 7% this year and next, the forecast said. 

Tax revenue is also on the rise. 

“The outlook for General Fund tax collections has been revised up by around 5% over the next few years,” the forecast said. “This translates into significantly more resources for policymakers.”

While the forecast states that inflation will pick up in the coming months, it expects it to be temporary. 

The forecast also doesn’t make any definitive statements about the “kicker,” a payment made to taxpayers if actual state revenues exceed forecasted revenues by 2% or more over the two-year budget cycle. The forecast points out that tax filing deadlines were extended to May, and the ending balance of the current budget cycle could change by “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

-Jake Thomas