Oregon reported 1,153 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and just one additional death, totals far below recent tallies. However, the state’s data often lags during weekends and may not fully capture current conditions until later in the week.
Oregon health centers began administering the first COVID-19 vaccine, from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, last week. And a second vaccine began shipping Sunday from Moderna’s factories in Memphis. People in some parts of the country may receive their first doses of the new vaccine Monday.
It’s not clear how many days it will take for the Moderna vaccine to reach Oregon, but Gov. Kate Brown said Sunday that an independent review of the vaccine’s safety cleared it for use in Oregon and four western states.
“After thorough scientific review, here is what the doctors and health experts have told us: the Moderna vaccine is safe. It is effective. And, it gives us the ability to reach communities across rural Oregon and the West that don’t have easy access to cold storage,” Brown said. “Now, we must do everything we can to distribute vaccines as quickly and equitably as possible, to protect our frontline health care workers, long-term care residents and staff, and the communities most at risk from COVID-19.”
While vaccine development and distribution has been proceeding at a historic pace, last week was marked by confusion over the number of doses that would be available in each state. Oregon and more than a dozen other states reported they were receiving substantially fewer doses than they anticipated; Army Gen. Gustave Perna apologized Saturday for failing to provide accurate information.
The Moderna vaccine that began shipping Sunday has less stringent refrigeration requirements than Pfizer’s vaccine. That may make it more readily available in rural communities in Oregon and elsewhere that don’t have the advanced freezers necessary to store the Pfizer vaccine.
Even with two vaccines now in hand, it will take months to produce and distribute enough doses to inoculate the majority of the population and bring an end to the pandemic. Infections and deaths have been running at record highs in Oregon and across the country.
Public health officials continue to warn against large gatherings and fear that Christmas travel could lead to another spike in infections.
The latest death was a 91-year-old woman in Josephine County with underlying health conditions. The Oregon Health Authority said she tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 5 and died Thursday.
Where the new cases are by county:
Baker (4) Benton (7), Clackamas (77), Clatsop (3), Columbia (9), Coos (5), Crook (5), Curry (7), Deschutes (43), Douglas (4), Hood River (17), Jackson (47), Jefferson (4), Josephine (16), Klamath (50), Lake (4), Lane (61), Lincoln (3), Linn (27), Malheur (6), Marion (203), Morrow (3), Multnomah (174), Polk (19), Sherman (1), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (44), Union (3), Wasco (17), Washington (261), Yamhill (28).
Prevalence of infections: The state reported 17,426 new coronavirus tests and 1,174 new positive tests, for a positivity rate of 6.7%.
Hospitalized patients: The health authority reported 530 people hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, down 6 from Saturday. The state had 121 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit beds, 17 more than Saturday.
Since it began: Oregon has tallied 102,930 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic and 1,341 deaths.