The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners called on Gov. Kate Brown to reduce restrictions for counties at extreme risk for the coronavirus.
Indoor activity at restaurants, bars, gyms and entertainment venues is prohibited in counties categorized as extreme risk.
In a letter to the governor on Wednesday, Commissioner Mark Kujala, the board’s new chairman, requested capacity for indoor activity to remain the same as counties at high risk — 25% or 50 people, whichever is smaller.
“As a county that implemented early local restrictions to stem the tide of the virus, we are fully aware of the complex considerations required to balance the physical, mental, emotional and economic health of a community,” Kujala said. “We believe an iterative and calibrated approach, that thoughtfully weighs all these considerations, is the path forward.
“We believe this modification will provide mental, emotional and economic benefits to our community, without introducing significant risk for increased local transmission. We trust businesses and organizations will faithfully manage within the limited allowances for indoor activity.”
Astoria Mayor Bruce Jones sent a similar letter to the governor on Dec. 31, saying that for restaurants and bars, “the ‘yo-yo’ effect of opening and closing every two weeks is overly burdensome logistically.”
Warrenton Mayor Henry Balensifer and Seaside Mayor Jay Barber also endorsed the request.
David Reid, the executive director of the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce, sent a similar letter last week to the governor and the Oregon Health Authority.
He said that if the state has evidence to support prohibitions on indoor activity that it be shared with businesses.
The state reclassified the county as extreme risk — effective Friday — based on the local virus case count.
Columbia Memorial Hospital, Providence Seaside Hospital and Clatsop County partnered this week to administer their remaining vaccines.
People under the federal government’s first priority group were invited to vaccination events at the Bob Chisholm Community Center in Seaside on Wednesday and the Clatsop County Fairgrounds on Thursday.
Kujala said combining resources, vaccines and staff will be the model moving forward.
The county, in partnership with Columbia Memorial and Providence Seaside, has created a vaccine task force that is meeting daily to manage the vaccination rollout.
“However, the supply of available vaccines supplied from the state will likely be exhausted this week or next week, and local providers have not yet been informed of additional shipments,” the county said in a statement.
“For that reason, the local vaccination effort will remain focused on remaining members of high-priority Phase 1a groups before other identified groups — including teachers and individuals 65 years old and older — can be included.”
As of Friday, 1,847 vaccines have been administered in the county.
The vaccination rollout at the federal and state levels has been slow and complicated by uncertainty and conflicting information.
Brown said Friday that Oregon does not expect increased shipments of vaccines next week.
“Last night, I received disturbing news, confirmed to me directly by General (Gustave) Perna of Operation Warp Speed: States will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines from the national stockpile next week, because there is no federal reserve of doses.
“I am demanding answers from the Trump administration,” the governor said in a statement. “I am shocked and appalled that they have set an expectation on which they could not deliver, with such grave consequences.
“This is a deception on a national scale. Oregon’s seniors, teachers and all of us were depending on the promise of Oregon’s share of the federal reserve of vaccines being released to us.”