December 17, 2021
Contact: Jessica LaVigne, Campaign Manager
Tobias Read: “We need a plan to protect our most vulnerable, keep schools open, and small businesses operating amid the rise of the omicron variant.”
Beaverton, OR – Oregonians have stepped up during the Covid-19 pandemic to help protect their loved ones, support small businesses, and keep kids in school. The past two years have been challenging, and in many ways, we are more prepared than ever to face the challenges of COVID-19. But it is becoming increasingly clear that Oregon will face some significant challenges stemming from new variants over the winter.
Here is the good news—we have the public health tools we need to fight this virus without shutting down our schools and businesses. The twin threats of omicron and delta variants are real. But we should not panic or give into our collective exhaustion.
As we head into winter, Oregon must act intentionally and aggressively to mitigate these risks in order to keep our schools open and our small businesses operating.
Early indications strongly suggest that boosters can help protect individuals from contracting these variants, and when there are breakthrough cases individuals are less likely to require hospitalization. However, only 21 percent of Oregonians have received their booster shots and many of our vulnerable residents are among those who received their original vaccines the longest ago.
In order to continue the progress we have made on Covid-19, Oregon should adopt a comprehensive plan focused on the following steps:
Protect the most vulnerable
We must do everything we can to keep these vulnerable Oregonians healthy and out of the hospital by:
- Deploying the Oregon National Guard to long-term care facilities and other congregate care settings with vulnerable Oregonians
- Identifying vulnerable populations and providing free at-home test kits to all families on the Oregon Health Plan
- Calling on private businesses to move forward with expanded vaccine and testing protocols
- Expanding access to testing
Keep schools open
We must provide parents, educators, and students with a clear expectation that schools will do everything to remain open and provide in-person learning for kids by:
- Requiring staff, teachers and students to be vaccinated against Covid-19 just like we require 8 other vaccines
- Providing schools with expanded testing capacity to identity covid positive cases early
- Adopting the Biden Administration’s Safe Schools Checklist
Get everyone boosted
Boosters are currently the best way to prevent severe illness and stop the spread and we must do more to get more Oregonians boosted by:
- Granting paid time off for state employees to receive their boosters, and strongly encouraging local government leaders and private businesses to follow suit
- Initiating an aggressive public education campaign aimed at urging seniors and vulnerable Oregonians to get boosted and tested
- Working with transportation providers, including Uber and Lyft, to offer free rides to booster sites for seniors and vulnerable communities
- Working with community-based organizations to reach underserved communities and encourage vaccination and boosters