Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Oregon again sees little movement on unemployment rate

June 15, 2021 at 2:55pm

Polk County just 500 Covid vaccines shy of moving to "low risk" restrictions

Tom McLeod, an EMT with Metro West Ambulance, readies a second dose of the Moderna vaccine at a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Centennial Park in Woodburn, Ore. on Thursday, April 1, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Just 502 adults living in Polk County need to get a first dose of Covid vaccine to move the county to Oregon's lowest level of Covid-related restrictions.

Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday that Polk County has submitted a required plan to close vaccination gaps along racial and ethnic lines and has achieved an adult vaccination rate of 64.24%. That's just shy of Brown's target that 65% of adults in a county receive at least one dose of Covid vaccine before moving to "low risk" restrictions.

Brown said Polk County could immediately move to "low risk" rules when the 65% target is met. The county has been listed at "moderate risk" for the past two weeks as new Covid cases have declined.

Under low risk rules, restaurants and bars could remain open until midnight, one hour later than currently allowed. Gyms, theaters and many other indoor entertainment venues could operate at 50% capacity, rather than the current 20%, and faith institutions could hold services at 75% indoor capacity.

Jacqui Umstead, Polk County's public health administrator, said she expects it will take seven to 10 days to hit that target based on recent vaccination rates. The county has several upcoming free vaccination clinics at local schools. Details are listed on the county website.

Marion County will remain under "high risk" restrictions because of a higher rate of new Covid cases than Polk. It's one of just 10 counties in Oregon still at that level.

In Marion County, 58.9% of adults have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine, and 16,533 more need to get a shot to hit Brown's 65% target, according to Oregon Health Authority data.

The "low risk" target could be moot if 70% of Oregon adults get a first Covid vaccine sooner. That's Brown's target for dropping the state's mask mandate and nearly all pandemic-related business restrictions. Vaccination rates statewide have slowed over the past month, but Oregon remains on track to hit that target by the end of June.

-Rachel Alexander

June 15, 2021 at 1:50pm

Hang up your raincoats. Rainy weather is expected to end Wednesday

Salem has seen an abnormal amount of rain so far this month, but people can put away their umbrellas starting Wednesday.

In the last two weeks, it’s rained more than an inch and a half in Salem. Normally, there would be three quarters of an inch of rain the first half of June.

But don’t expect a record-breaking month.

“I don’t know if it’s going to end up being the wettest June (in Salem),” said Dan Miller, science and operations officer at the National Weather Service in Portland. “After today we’re not going to get too much more in the way of precipitation.”

The weather is expected to warm into the 80s this weekend and up to 90 degrees by next week.

Miller said the region didn’t get much rain when it typically does in the spring. April was the driest month on record.

But he said every bit of rain helps and the recent downpours could delay the start of fire season by a week.

“I would say the damage really has been done. We’re kind of locked into dry conditions and low stream flows for majority of our summer,” he said. 

-Saphara Harrell

June 15, 2021 at 10:57am

Oregon again sees little movement on unemployment rate

Oregon Employment Department. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Oregon’s unemployment rate remained stuck at 5.9% in May, according to numbers released by the state Employment Department Tuesday. 

The state’s unemployment rate was the same in April and has hovered around 6% since a spike in Covid cases during the winter. Oregon’s unemployment rate has largely followed the rest of the country. The national unemployment rate dipped to 5.8% in May from 6.1% in April. 

In May, Oregon added 6,900 jobs following monthly gains averaging 11,400 in the last four months, according to the department. The largest gains were in private education (3,400 jobs), professional and business services (2,900 jobs), construction (900 jobs) and financial activities (900 jobs). 

The state’s leisure and hospitality sector, which has lost more jobs than any other industry during the pandemic, is slowly recovering. According to the department, the industry is still 46,700 jobs below from where it was in February 2020. For the last three months, jobs specifically classified as accommodation and food service have had flat hiring trends over the last three months. 

-Jake Thomas