COVID Update: As Cases Continue to Rise, OHA Plans for Vaccine

On Monday Oct. 26, health officials announced 339 new coronavirus cases in Oregon, bringing the state’s total identified cases to 42,436. Overall, 655 Oregonians have died.  

In Benton County, there were 10 new cases as of Oct. 26, bringing the county’s total to 404, with 6 fatalities. Modeling shows that cases in Oregon could increase significantly in the coming months, particularly with colder weather and the upcoming holidays.   

As cases continue to rise, multiple COVID-19 vaccine trials are in final stages. Dr. Ken Stedman, a biology professor at Portland State University, told KATU News he is hopeful a vaccine will be approved by the end of the year. However, he doesn’t anticipate widespread distribution of the vaccine until at least the summer of 2021.   

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have asked states to share how they plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s ready, and the Oregon Health Authority has already submitted a draft plan to the CDC.  

On their website, OHA says the state plans to follow federal guidance for a phased approach, meaning vaccinations will first go to critical groups before becoming widely distributed.  

“OHA is reaching out to public health, health care and community organizations to partner with us as we continue to develop this plan,” their website states. “We want to understand how our current systems for getting people vaccinated may need to be rebuilt to meet the needs of communities who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.”  

More information on COVID-19 in Oregon can be found on the OHA website.  

By Jada Krening