Deschutes County is one of five counties to have vaccinated 65% of its residents 16 and older, allowing for the county to move into the lower risk level Friday.
On Tuesday, Gov. Kate Brown said the five counties moving to lower risk were: Benton, Deschutes, Hood River, Lincoln and Washington. At the lower risk level, as many as 10 people can socialize and gather indoors, restaurants can seat up to 50% capacity and serve as many as 300 people outdoors. Gyms and fitness centers also can operate at 50% capacity.
“It’s exciting that we qualified right away,” said Tony DeBone, Deschutes County Commission chairman. “It’s been a great community effort. In Deschutes County, we know how to manage incidents. We can go from zero to 100 mph quickly.”
The county had been hovering at a 63% vaccination rate on Monday, but once the county was able to obtain vaccination rates from federally qualified health centers and Veterans Affairs, the county rate rose to 65%, DeBone said.
At the same time, St. Charles Bend had 43 COVID-19 patients, eight in the intensive care unit and eight on ventilators, according to the hospital’s website.
Around the state, the vaccination rate is 58.9% of people 16 and older, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Lake County reported the lowest vaccination rate at 32% of those 16 and older, according to the health authority website.
Earlier this month Brown shifted the focus from case counts and hospitalizations to vaccination rates as the key measure of a county’s ability to drop COVID-19 restrictions. She said when 70% of the adults 16 and older received at least one COVID-19 vaccination and there’s a plan in each county to achieve vaccine equity for people in underserved communities, the state could throw the doors open to normalcy.