Oregon could be fully reopened in two weeks if the state can maintain its current COVID-19 vaccination rate.
That's the assessment from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown who outlined the state's plans to reopen during a Friday morning news briefing.
As of June 1, 66.2% of Oregonians 18 years old and older have been vaccinated. Brown earlier had set a 70% vaccination goal statewide to be met by the end of June.
"Thanks to all of you we are getting close to fully reopening our economy and moving out of this chapter of the pandemic. We just need 127,000 Oregonians to take your shot for us to reopen in the next two weeks," Brown said.
Brown said the vaccinations have led to a sharp decline in COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations.
In Brown's outline of fully reopening Oregon, she after reaching the 70% threshold, there would be no more capacity limits for businesses. Masks would largely no longer be required by the state with the exception of places that the federal government has outlined that are still necessary, such as airports, public transit and health care settings, and no more requirements for physical distancing.
"By in large we will be able to return to the activities and traditions we have missed for more than a year, (such as) 4th of July barbecues, eating popcorn in movie theaters, or getting a beer after work at the local brewery with your friends. Restaurants and bars will be able to have a full house," Brown said.
The governor also said she expected that K-12 schools will return to full time in-person instruction in the fall and that child care settings will be able to meet the needs of Oregon's families.
"Because children are not yet eligible for vaccinations, there may be some health and safety measures that need to stay in place for those types of educational settings," Brown said. "But again, Oregon's primary school instruction will be in the classroom five days a week this fall."
State focus shifting
Brown said the state is now shifting its focus on emergency response to pandemic recovery to move forward with the support of health care providers, and public health with the resources to manage outbreaks locally.
"I want to be very clear," Brown said. "We are able to reopen because of the advocacy of the vaccine. For those of you who are vaccinated you have helped us reach this point and you are protected from this virus."
Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen said Oregonians who have been vaccinated can now move forward.
"The data clearly shows if you are fully vaccinated you can put the pandemic behind you and you’ll have peace of mind if you are exposed to someone who has COVID, you won't have to be quarantined," he said.
While Allen said he believes that the state can make the June 30 target date of 70% vaccination, it is going to take a lot of hard work to get there.
"There are really two pandemics, not one," he said. "One is dying out among people who are vaccinated, the other is one that still raging among those who are not vaccinated."