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Vaccine event shows off local capabilities

By all accounts, Jackson County’s first COVID mass vaccination event was a rousing success. Conducted over three days at the Expo in Central Point, the event was joint operation by Asante, Providence, the County Public Health and the National Guard.

Rosebud Media readers who received vaccinations have sent letters to the editor praising the efficiency and courtesy they encountered, and suggesting that the operation be used as a model for other communities.

In all, more than 7,200 doses were administered from Thursday through Saturday, with no reports of serious allergic reactions. That brings the total doses given in Jackson County to 15,058.

It took Jackson County more than nine months to reach 7,000 cases of COVID-19. The Expo event managed to vaccinate that many people in three days. That doesn’t mean the danger is over — it’s only a start in a county of 221,000 people. Much will depend on the availability of vaccine doses from the federal government.

And all those people will need to receive the necessary second dose to be fully vaccinated. So far, 2,153 of those 15,058 have received both doses.

President Joe Biden has vowed to vaccinate 100 million people nationwide in the first 100 days of his administration. That’s an ambitious goal that’s easier to promise than to accomplish. But our local hospitals and public health officials have shown they can handle a high-volume vaccination event with efficiency and competence. Now it’s up to the federal government to deliver the vaccine.

On Tuesday, Gov. Kate Brown announced the county risk classifications for the next two weeks, leaving Jackson County in the “extreme” category along with most other counties in the state. But she also said some restrictions on indoor activities will ease slightly starting Friday, with gyms and movie theaters allowed to reopen under strict limits. Indoor dining is still prohibited.

That’s not welcome news for a restaurant industry that has not been identified as a major source of COVID outbreaks. But the number of new cases has come down somewhat, and the state did not see the spike in infections that had been feared over the holidays.

Risk categories are reevaluated every two weeks. As more vaccinations take place, infections should continue to taper off, and that should clear the way to begin reopening more of the state’s economy.

But that depends on everyone continuing to follow the rules, even those who have been vaccinated. That means continuing to wear masks in public, practicing social distancing and frequent hand-washing and avoid large gatherings, especially indoors.

It’s been a long haul, and it’s far from over. But with patience and continued cooperation, we will get through this.