Pandemic stories - local government, vaccines, virus, medical care, state government
Salem Health will shift how it offers Covid vaccinations
Masks and social distancing may soon no longer be required in Oregon workplaces
Cherriots will resume collecting fares next month
Polk County will move to "moderate risk" following drop in new Covid cases
Marion, Polk counties remain thousands of vaccines shy of state targets to loosen restrictions
Free May. 21
Getting a Covid vaccine in Oregon could make you a millionaire
Salem Health will scale down mass vaccination sites, distribute Covid vaccine to clinics and smaller events
COVID VACCINATION May. 19
Covid vaccines are now widespread in Oregon, but not everyone wants one
Weeks ago, appointments for Covid vaccines were scarce as many adults waited their turn to become eligible. Now, in Oregon and the Salem area, vaccination rates are starting to slow. Here's what some Salem residents say about why they're not getting a shot, and what public health agencies are doing to persuade people to change their minds.
COVID IN OREGON May. 18
Oregonians can ditch masks while inside businesses — as long as they bring their vaccination papers
The Oregon Health Authority released new guidelines on Tuesday for when and how fully vaccinated people can take their masks off in businesses. Masks remain required for all in hospitals, prisons, schools and long-term care facilities. The state’s top epidemiologist said the guidelines are a step toward normalcy, but they’re trusting Oregonians not to game them.
COVID IN OREGON May. 18
Enchanted Forest delays planned reopening after pushback over mask rules
The theme park, located south of Salem, had planned to kick off its season this weekend. But with threats and possible heated disagreements over shifting guidelines on masks, Enchanted Forest says it’ll hold off on opening to the public.
COVID IN OREGON May. 17
Why a relaxed mandate could be a headache for Salem area businesses
Gov. Kate Brown said she'll update Covid restrictions to reflect new federal recommendations that say fully vaccinated people can go maskless in most settings. Public health officials have indicated that businesses will largely be responsible for enforcing the new requirements. That's sparked concerns in the business community that they'll be saddled with yet another Covid-related burden.
COVID IN SALEM May. 17
Short of details, public officials could only watch as church Covid outbreak unfolded
A month passed from the first reported case of Covid at Peoples Church in Salem before health authorities could establish that dozens of people were sick. The outbreak, publicly announced May 5 is the state’s largest workplace outbreak in 2021.
Free May. 13
Governor says vaccinated Oregonians can drop masks in most settings
Free May. 13
Oregon teens age 12-15 now eligible for Covid vaccine; Salem Health offering shots at fairgrounds
COVID IN OREGON May. 12
As vaccinations pick up, Marion County sees Covid cases again falling
It's not clear whether Marion County will hit a target of 65% of adults vaccinated against Covid before Oregon lifts most pandemic restrictions, but county health officials see an end in sight.
FreeCOVID IN OREGON May. 11
Brown sets 70% vaccination target to lift most Covid restrictions
Oregon can resume something resembling normal life once 70% of people 16 and older have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine, Gov. Kate Brown said Tuesday. Health officials expect to hit that target in June, and several counties, including Polk, are on track to see some restrictions lifted earlier based on vaccination rates.
FDA approves Pfizer vaccine for 12-15 year-olds, but Oregon teens will have to wait a few days for shots
COVID IN SALEM May. 10
A Salem community health worker quietly helps an overlooked community navigate the pandemic
Salem’s Pacific Islander community has been hard-hit by the pandemic, as well as misinformation on the virus. Kapiolani Micky has been there to help connect the community with resources and information.
COVID IN OREGON May. 7
Oregon workplace safety agency moves to make Covid regulations permanent
Earlier this week, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration enacted regulations that’ll continue the masking, social distancing and sanitization requirements that have become common in workplaces. While business groups say the requirements are manageable, they say there should include a sunset date. Labor groups say the pandemic is ongoing, and the regulations have kept workers safe.
FreeCOVID IN SALEM May. 6
Peoples Church in northeast Salem tied to one of Oregon’s largest Covid outbreaks
The Oregon Health Authority said Wednesday that 74 people had contracted Covid through an outbreak tied to the church after beginning an investigation in April. The church’s lead pastor, Scott Erickson, joined nine other Oregon churches in a 2020 lawsuit unsuccessfully seeking to overturn Gov. Kate Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” order.
New lawsuit challenges Oregon's Covid restrictions
COVID IN OREGON May. 5
Salem area reacts with frustration to yo-yo shift in Covid restrictions
Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday surprised people across the state by announcing that 15 counties, including Marion and Polk, would move from the “extreme” to “high” risk categories of Covid restrictions. Salem area businesses and elected leaders were agitated by the sudden shift in restrictions and the explanation offered by the governor for it.
Free May. 4
Gov. Brown moves Marion, Polk counties back to "high risk," clearing indoor dining to resume
COVID IN OREGON May. 4
Oregon civil rights group seeks to expand lawsuit over state’s handling of Covid in prisons
On Monday, lawyers representing people incarcerated in Oregon’s prisons filed a motion in federal court asking a judge to grant an ongoing lawsuit class-action status. Gaining the status could significantly expand the number of people who could seek compensation from the Oregon Department of Corrections for its response to the pandemic.
FreeCOVID IN SALEM Apr. 30
“Covid fatigue” among younger, unvaccinated people driving Salem-area case increases
With Covid cases and hospitalizations on the rise in Salem and across Oregon, public health workers are often unable to pinpoint where someone caught Covid. But Marion and Polk county health officials said they’re seeing a clear trend of younger people getting the virus.
COVID IN OREGON Apr. 27
For a third time, Salem braces for stringent Covid restrictions
With Covid cases increasing and Oregon’s hospital system at risk of being overwhelmed, Gov. Kate Brown is enacting regulations closing restaurants to indoor service, cutting capacity at gyms and others. Unlike other times restrictions have been heightened, rising vaccinations offer a light at the end of the tunnel.
With Covid surging, Marion and Polk counties moved back into extreme risk categories
Free Apr. 23
Indoor dining could shut down by end of April in Salem as Covid hospitalizations rise
Free Apr. 22
Health authorities investigating death of Oregon woman who developed blood clot after receiving J&J vaccine
COVID IN OREGON Apr. 20
Polk County moved into “high risk” category. But another shutdown is off the table — for now
Covid cases have been on the rise in Marion and Polk counties for weeks. Beginning Friday, Polk County will see the same restrictions on businesses and social gatherings currently in place in Marion County. Gov. Kate Brown has said no county will be placed in the “extreme risk” category, unless two statewide triggers are met.
Free Apr. 19
Covid vaccine eligibility is wide open in Oregon. Here's what you need to know for Salem.
Free Apr. 16
Covid hospitalizations, cases again on the rise as most Oregonians become eligible for shots
FreeCOVID VACCINATION IN OREGON Apr. 15
Expanded eligibility hasn’t closed Oregon’s vaccination gap for Latinos
Marion County has vaccinated a larger share of Latinos than Oregon as a whole thanks to a large outreach push from community organizations and the county health department. But in Salem, the community hardest hit by the pandemic still lags behind, and Latino groups across the state say the health system needs to do more.
AROUND OREGON Apr. 15
AROUND OREGON: A financial lifeline during Covid
The economic downturn caused by the pandemic has hit Indian Country particularly hard. Entrepreneurs are turning to small, local lending institutions in a region that’s often outside the reach of traditional banks.
COVID VACCINATION Apr. 13
Despite J&J pause, Covid vaccine clinics targeting farm workers, rural areas will go on as scheduled in Salem area
Some individual Covid vaccine appointments with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be rescheduled in Salem, but local vaccine providers said they’re substituting Pfizer and Moderna doses for planned clinics rather than cancel events.
Free Apr. 13
Oregon pauses J&J vaccine as medical issue investigated
COVID IN OREGON Apr. 8
Oregon won't approve Covid exposure app, citing limited resources
In a news release Tuesday, the health authority said it “decided to pause the ongoing planning” for the application to “focus on vaccinations and other priority efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Commissioner, farmworker organizer get Covid vaccines during Marion County meeting
Polk County has two weeks to bring Covid cases down before businesses must reduce capacity
Free Apr. 6
All Oregonians 16 or older will be eligible for Covid vaccine April 19
FreeCOVID VACCINATION Apr. 5
Where and how to get a Covid vaccine in Salem
Frontline workers, their family members and anyone 16 or older with a health condition can now get a Covid vaccine in Oregon. We compiled appointment links and tips for the Salem area to help you get scheduled.
Free Apr. 2
Family of frontline workers can get a Covid vaccine in Oregon
Free Apr. 1
Salem Health rolls out mobile vaccine clinics in Marion, Polk counties
Free Mar. 31
Marion County opens Covid vaccinations to all frontline workers, adults with health conditions
HOMELESSNESS Mar. 31
Homeless service providers face uphill battle rolling out Covid vaccine
A recent vaccination event at the Oregon State Fairgrounds with unsheltered people living at the Pavilion got few takers. Homeless service providers said interest will be low at first, relying on unsheltered “vaccine ambassadors” to build trust about the inoculation.
AROUND OREGON Mar. 29
AROUND OREGON: Judge rules Ontario prison must enforce mask mandate, consider rapid tests for employees
Circuit Court Judge Amy Baggio found that two inmates' Eighth Amendment right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment had been violated over medical care. She found that prison workers doubt the seriousness of Covid.
Free Mar. 29
Covid vaccine appointments open for April 1 clinic in Woodburn
FreeCOVID VACCINATION Mar. 26
Thousands more Covid vaccines coming to Salem as state speeds up timeline
Grocery store employees, restaurant workers and hundreds of thousands of other Oregonians will be eligible for a vaccine April 5 as the pace of federal vaccine shipments continues to increase.
COVID IN SALEM Mar. 26
Readers weigh in on getting a Covid vaccine in Salem
We asked and you shared accounts of getting a shot or trying to find one.
Free Mar. 26
Frontline workers in Oregon now eligible for vaccines April 5
Free Mar. 25
Can sick leave be used for Covid shots? A state agency says yes
SALEM HEALTH CARE Mar. 24
A chaotic, gratifying first year for Salem’s new primary care clinic
Just weeks after opening their doors, the staff of South Salem Primary Care found themselves adapting to telemedicine and navigating a pandemic with their patients. Dr. Rashanda Brown said she’s hopeful virtual visits and an interest in preventative health care will stick around.
COVID IN OREGON Mar. 23
After weeks of declining Covid cases, Polk County will see restrictions eased
The new restrictions will allow more people in restaurants, gyms and churches. Marion County will remain under more restrictions, for now, effectively creating two sets of Covid regulations for Salem.
FreeCOVID VACCINATION Mar. 20
Searching for a Covid vaccination in Portland? Try taking a road trip to Salem
March 18 marked the first time Salem Health's Covid vaccination clinic at the state fairgrounds had appointments remaining unfilled. The large allocation of vaccines to Marion County has many Oregonians traveling from elsewhere to get a shot.
Free Mar. 19
In Salem, farmworkers and adults with health conditions will be eligible for a Covid vaccine March 22
Free Mar. 19
Watch Gov. Brown, Oregon health officials announce vaccine schedule changes at 11 a.m.
Free Mar. 17
All Oregonians will be eligible for a Covid vaccine May 1, Oregon Health Authority says
Free Mar. 15
Appointments open for Thursday Covid vaccine clinic in Woodburn
FreeAROUND OREGON Mar. 14
AROUND OREGON: Tribal governments in Oregon having success getting vaccines into arms
Once leery of federal health initiatives, Native Americans embrace COVID-19 vaccines as a way to protect communities and families.
FreeCOVID IN OREGON Mar. 12
Oregon health officials expect Covid vaccinations to accelerate, but more contagious Covid variants and looser restrictions could challenge progress
Oregon health officials said a push from the Biden administration to open Covid vaccination to all adults by May 1 is welcome. But they cautioned Oregon can’t commit to that timeline without an increase in federal supply.
Free Mar. 12
Hear the latest on Covid in Oregon Friday with Gov. Kate Brown, OHA, OHSU
COVID IN SALEM Mar. 10
Salem area on track to see pandemic restrictions further loosened if Covid case counts keep falling
Marion County’s public health director said Wednesday the county is on track to move to a lower risk level in a few weeks if current trends continue. That would allow more people to eat inside restaurants or go to the gym or a museum.
COVID VACCINATION Mar. 9
Hoping to improve vaccine equity, Oregon allows some Salem-area health centers to vaccinate all patients
Oregon Latinos make up one-quarter of the state’s Covid cases, but just 4% of that population has been vaccinated to date. Marion County has fared better, launching a significant outreach campaign in Spanish and directing vaccine doses to the north county. Community groups say access still remains challenging. Now, Salud Medical Center and Lancaster Family Health Center have a green light to vaccinate all their patients starting this week.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT Mar. 9
Woodburn hotel used for Covid isolation could continue until June
Last summer, Marion County booked all the rooms in the Super 8 hotel in Woodburn to offer people with relatively minor Covid cases whose living situations prevented them from being able to isolate. While there are signs the pandemic is waning, the hotel could be in use for a few more months.
Free Mar. 4
Salem area should see more Covid vaccines week of March 7
Free Mar. 3
Safeway, Albertsons pharmacies in Oregon will have Johnson & Johnson vaccines starting March 4
Free Mar. 3
Woodburn Ambulance will begin second Covid vaccine doses March 11
Free Mar. 2
Oregon will distribute Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccines to adult foster homes
FreeCOVID VACCINATION Feb. 26
All adult Oregonians will be eligible for Covid vaccine by July 1, health officials say
Agricultural workers and adults 45-64 with underlying health conditions will be the next in line for a vaccine starting March 29, state health officials announced Friday. Other frontline workers, including grocery store employees, will become eligible by May 1.
Free Feb. 26
Gov. Brown, health officials announce vaccination schedule for frontline workers at 11 a.m. Friday
COVID IN MARION COUNTY Feb. 25
“The hardest decision I’ve ever made.” Remembering a Keizer dad who died of Covid at 43
Amy Senske knew young, healthy people who had gotten Covid and survived. Then her husband got sick.
Free Feb. 19
Seniors can sign up for free Covid vaccine drive-through clinic in Woodburn Feb. 25
Free Feb. 19
More Covid vaccines should arrive in Salem area next week as seniors 70 and older become eligible
FreeCOVID VACCINATION Feb. 18
Icy weather frustrates vaccination effort for Salem seniors
An order of 67,000 Covid vaccines Oregon expected to receive early this week hasn’t yet shipped because of poor weather, and hundreds more vaccination appointments in the Salem area were canceled because of ice and power outages.
Despite icy forecast, Salem Health's Saturday vaccine appointments will go on as scheduled
COVID IN OREGON Feb. 12
Coming to a Salem pharmacy near you: Covid vaccinations
Next week, 127 retail pharmacies located in Salem and across the state will begin offering vaccines for Covid. The move is part of the federal and state strategy to make the vaccine more accessible. However, issues over adequate supply remain.
Salem's vaccine allocation doubled for week of Feb. 15 as more seniors become eligible for shots
Free Feb. 10
Over 80? Get a free Covid vaccine at Feb. 11 drive-thru clinic in Woodburn
Twelve Oregon counties move to looser Covid restrictions, but Marion, Polk aren't among them
Free Feb. 9
Legacy Health opens Covid vaccine appointments in Woodburn
FreeCOVID VACCINATION Feb. 5
Salem Health won’t get fresh Covid vaccines for fairgrounds clinic Feb. 8, frustrating effort to inoculate seniors
The Oregon Health Authority has allocated just 2,600 first doses of Covid vaccine to Marion County next week as state health officials say they’re working to bring the Portland Metro area’s vaccination rate in line with other counties that got an earlier start. Salem Health’s CEO said she was “shocked and angry” by the decision to cut doses for a county hard hit by Covid.
Oregon now says most seniors, educators can be vaccinated by early April
FreeCOVID VACCINATION Feb. 4
Older Oregonians faced one of the longest vaccine lines in the U.S. On Monday, some will finally be eligible
Days before Oregon opens Covid vaccination to people 80 and older, there’s still little information available about how to schedule appointments. For now, Salem Health’s clinics will remain the primary way to get vaccines locally, but some doses are expected at pharmacies.
City of Salem offers free protective equipment to local businesses
COVID IN OREGON Feb. 3
Covid vaccines are now on their way to prisoners. But governor’s says it won’t affect shots for educators, seniors
On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that the state needed to prioritize Oregon’s 14,000 prisoners in its vaccine schedule. Details about how that’ll happen have yet to be released, but tight vaccine supplies mean many eligible Oregonians will wait weeks or months for shots.
Limited Covid vaccines coming to Safeway, Costco, Albertsons in Oregon
After pushback, Oregon resumes disclosing information about Covid deaths
Free Feb. 1
Second dose Covid vaccines available at Salem fairgrounds this week
COVID IN OREGON Jan. 29
Covid rules are now loosened. Here's what that means for Salem
With Covid transmissions declining, more stringent pandemic regulations have been relaxed for Marion and Polk counties. Going to the gym or playing video poker are again options. But things still won't look the same.
Marion County to get fewer doses as Oregon tries to equalize Covid vaccination rates
COVID VACCINATION Jan. 29
PHOTOS: Inside Salem Health's Covid vaccine clinic at the fairgrounds
Marion County has so far vaccinated more than 30,000 residents against Covid, one of the highest vaccination rates in Oregon.
Oregon Health Authority will stop publishing information on individual Covid deaths
COVID VACCINATION Jan. 28
AROUND OREGON: Six stranded motorists win Covid vaccine jackpot while stuck in snowstorm near Cave Junction
Josephine County health workers were coming back to Grants Pass from a vaccine clinic when they got stuck in snow on Highway 199. Rather than dump vaccines that would have expired, they went car to car to find willing recipients.
As Oregon faces pushback for Covid vaccine prioritization, advisory committee to meet Thursday
FreeCOVID VACCINATION Jan. 27
Salem Health ready to offer second doses of Covid vaccine when Salem fairgrounds clinic reopens
About 8,000 people got the first dose of a Covid vaccine in the early days of Salem Health’s vaccination clinic. This week, they’re due for a booster shot and can schedule an appointment online.
FreeCOVID IN SALEM Jan. 25
Covid cases, hospitalizations falling in Salem area after winter surge
A steep climb in Covid-related hospitalizations in November and December led to record deaths tied to the virus locally. Now, pandemic numbers in the Salem area and in Oregon are looking better, though still far above numbers needed for the state to loosen business restrictions.
STATE POLITICS Jan. 22
New poll finds a majority of Oregonians say they'll get the Covid vaccine and also don't want more taxes
Oregon Business and Industry released the results of a poll on Friday. It found that splits among groups willing to get the vaccine. It also found that Oregonians want the Legislature to take a light touch on policy proposals during the session currently underway. Democrats signaled they have other ideas.