Oregon restores restrictions amid Covid surge boosted by vaccine hesitancy

Oregon has reimposed restrictions on public gatherings as Covid-19 cases rise again, a reminder that even as 100 millions Americans are now fully vaccinated, states are still seeing localized outbreaks.

Fifteen of Oregon’s 36 counties are now considered at “extreme risk” for coronavirus spread. This designation bans indoor dining and significantly reduces capacity at gyms and entertainment venues.

“I was presented with data showing two paths Oregon could take,” Governor Kate Brown said on Friday, adding that tightening restrictions would save “hundreds of lives” and prevent as many as 450 hospitalizations in the next three weeks.

“As your governor, I chose to save lives,” said Brown, a Democrat.

Cases in Oregon have risen 21% in the last week, a fifth week in a row of increases greater than 20%.

Importantly, the spread of Covid-19 in Oregon is still not as severe as in other parts of the country. Oregon has half the per-capita rate of cases of Michigan, which remains the worst-affected US state.

New Jersey, Delaware, Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Maine and Colorado follow behind Michigan. Nationally, the seven-day average of new cases has fallen from a peak of 254,000 in mid-January to just over 50,000.

Brown’s decision places more pressure on the hospitality industry in particular, which has only recently begun to move toward recovery as people feel comfortable leaving home. However, a sense of relief washing across the US may also play a role in Oregon’s rising cases.

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