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Oregon’s Rural Versus Metro Risk Level Divide

This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)

Beginning Thursday in the state’s most populous county, you could see the crowds start to get larger at restaurants, theaters, and gyms. That’s because Multnomah’s moving to lower risk. Businesses can start allowing 50% capacity crowds of customers indoors, in Multnomah County.

But in nearby Clackamas County they’ll remain at just half that, 25%, because the county’s still in the high risk category. Clackamas needs another 16,638 people to get vaccinated, to reach the threshold for moving to lower risk. The magic number is 65% vaccinated. Right now Clackamas has reached 60%. Multnomah and Washington are at 67%. Statewide more than 64% percent of Oregonians are vaccinated. Some rural and coastal counties are lagging behind, like Douglas at 39%, and Lake at 33%. Dusti Linell with Oregon State University’s Family and Community Health Program explains one reason she thinks that’s happening. “In our rural counties we’ve been hearing consistently from our communities especially where I serve on the coast, that the access to interpretation’s a major barrier. They don’t feel that they trust the locations, because there are not people who can speak their language.”

The next time counties can qualify to move into lower risk categories is the first week in June.

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