US Oregon places counties under strictest lockdown restrictions as COVID resurges
A new wave of the coronavirus has pushed a third of counties in the US State of Oregon to severely tighten lockdown restrictions.
Governor Kate Brown said 15 counties would move into the most sweeping and restrictive COVID-19 safety measures in more than two months to combat the new wave.
“Here is the reality Oregon is facing right now: cases are widespread, driven by new, more contagious variants,” Brown said in a statement. “Oregon leads the nation for our rate of increase in cases over the last two weeks.”
The US state is reporting about 816 new cases a day, a roughly 31 percent increase from two weeks ago. Nearly 30 percent of the state’s population was fully vaccinated, but hospitalizations have risen by about 42 percent in the same period, according to a New York Times database.
“If we don’t act now, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers in Oregon will be stretched to their limits treating severe cases of COVID-19,” Brown pointed out.
“With new COVID-19 variants widespread in so many of our communities, it will take all of us working together to bring this back under control.”
The governor urged Oregon residents to get vaccinated, calling it the key to fully reopening the state’s economy.
US media said the new limits are likely to prompt a political backlash as some states, like Michigan, where total numbers still remain high, have chosen not to tighten restrictions again and instead have asked residents to take greater precautions to halt the spread of the virus.
US public health experts have suggested a combination of factors could be driving the COVID surge, including more contagious variants, increased travel during spring break and the loosening of state guidelines.
The sweeping restrictive measures set off pushback from many Oregonians who believe the governor has dealt a blow to their livelihoods, economy and their mental health.
Oregon Health Authority officials said they believe the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the United Kingdom, is now the dominant strain in Oregon, making up a majority of cases.