Oregon officials warn of fourth COVID-19 surge

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — As vaccine administration continues to ramp up in Oregon, health officials say they are concerned about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the state and variants of the virus.

During the past two weeks, Oregon’s COVID-19 case count rates have been rising.

“The good news is, now when we face a surge, we know how to protect ourselves and others with powerful safety measures like mask-wearing and avoiding large social gatherings,” Gov. Kate Brown said. “And we have three safe and effective vaccines rapidly rolling out. But make no mistake, this is a race between the vaccines and the variants. It is a critical moment for us all to double down so we can outrun this next wave.”

Based on the Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 report that was released Wednesday, during the week of March 22 coronavirus cases increased by 28% from the previous week.

Health officials say that if more contagious variants take hold in Oregon, the COVID-19 transmission rate in the state could increase by 20% during April.

Meanwhile, Oregon’s top public health official says the governor needs to “start raising a ruckus” over what he sees as an unfair supply of the COVID-19 vaccine sent to Oregon by the federal government compared to other states.

Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said in a letter to Brown that if Oregon received the same amount of vaccine doses per capita as California, Oregon could have vaccinated an additional 150,000 residents by now.

He says if Oregon got as much vaccine as Kansas, that number rises to 227,000 additional Oregonians vaccinated.

Oregon ranks 39th in doses administered.

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