PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday said the state will accelerate its vaccination timeline as long as supplies from the federal government are available, but she stopped short of committing to make all adults in Oregon eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1.
On Thursday night, President Joe Biden directed all states to open vaccinations to all adults by that date. Oregon’s most recent vaccine rollout plan said all Oregonians 16 and older would be eligible for a vaccine by no later than July 1.
"As weekly shipment allocations increase, we will reassess those timelines," Brown said during a Friday news conference with state health officials. "If the doses are there, I have every intention of utilizing all available state and federal resources to match the president’s timeline for universal eligibility."
Both Gov. Brown and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Director Patrick Allen said Oregon will change its timeline, but the state needs more information from the federal government about vaccine shipments, and more doses must arrive before changes to the timeline can be made.
“As more vaccine shows up, we are not only ready but eager to accelerate our timeline,” Allen said.
In the meantime, Brown said, Oregon will continue to prioritize seniors, people with underlying health conditions and frontline workers.
As of Friday, Oregon has given first doses to 19% of the state's population, Allen said.
"We are all hopeful we can safely be reunited with our family and friends for small gatherings by the Fourth of July," Brown said. "I will do everything I can to make it happen."
Governor signs executive order on in-person learning
Gov. Brown issued a new executive order Friday, ordering all public schools in the state to begin the process of bringing students back for in-person learning.
Last week, Brown announced she'd be issuing the executive order in a letter to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). Executive Order 21-06 states that all public schools in Oregon must offer universal access to hybrid or full in-person instruction by the week of March 29 for kindergarten through fifth grade and by the week of April 19 for sixth through 12th grade.
"On March 12, 2020, I issued my executive order closing Oregon schools for what was then an extended spring break," Gov. Brown said in a release. "One year later, thanks to the hard work and smart choices of Oregonians to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, I am so pleased to see over 174,000 students back in the learning environment that serves them best: in-person instruction. While parents can keep their children in distance learning if they choose, this order will give every Oregon student the option to return to school this year."
Some students or parents may want to remain in comprehensive distance learning, for health needs or other reasons, and the governor said they'll have that option. School districts may move back to distance learning if health officials determine that community COVID transmission rates warrant a transition.
The OHA and ODE will issue updated guidance to match the governor’s directives by March 19.