A COVID-19 particle is pictured in this image provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

Gov. Kate Brown said Tuesday, May 11 that counties can qualify to ease COVID-19 restrictions on businesses starting next week if they vaccinate enough residents, but Baker County is far short of the threshold.

Brown said counties that have vaccinated at least 65% of their residents 16 and older can move to the lowest of the four risk levels May 21.

But as of Wednesday, May 12, just 40.9% of Baker County residents in that age range had been fully or partially vaccinated.

To reach the 65% level, another 3,425 Baker County residents would need to be vaccinated.

During the past week, however, the county has averaged just 63 doses administered per day, and some of those were second doses (those people, who have already had their first dose, have already been counted toward the 65% threshold).

Brown also said she would lift nearly all COVID-19 restrictions statewide when more than 70% of residents aged 16 and older have received at least a first dose of vaccine. As of Wednesday the statewide vaccination rate among those 16 and older was 56.6%.

Nancy Staten, director of the Baker County Health Department, said the department has ample vaccine doses available — 1,200 first doses and 500 second doses of the Moderna vaccine as of Wednesday.

What the department doesn’t have is much demand for those doses, Staten said.

“If we need to do large vaccine clinics again, we’ll do that,” she said.

Baker County Commissioner Mark Bennett said that although the vaccination rate doesn’t appear to offer the county a path to the lowest risk level, the county can also move to that level if its case totals dip. The county will remain at the current high risk level for at least one more week, through May 20.

Staten said she’s “cautiously optimistic” about the county’s trend. During the first 11 days of May the county had 30 new cases, compared with 60 cases for the final 11 days of April.

If that trend continues for the next several days, the county could potentially drop to the moderate or lowest risk level on May 21.

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