Dear OSU Community Members,
I write to update you regarding vaccination distribution plans pertinent to Oregon’s colleges and universities and offer reminders regarding OSU’s COVID-19 planning and response.
Gov. Kate Brown announced today that higher education employees who meet the criteria for frontline workers have been included in the remainder of the state’s Phase 1b distribution sequence and will be eligible to receive the vaccine no later than May 1, 2021. The governor further stated that Oregonians age 16 and over will be eligible to receive the vaccine no later than July 1, provided supplies from the federal government continue as planned.
Based on this vaccine distribution schedule we expect that most OSU faculty, staff, and students who wish to be vaccinated will be able to do so by mid-summer. Please visit the OHA’s Vaccine Sequencing website to learn more. Remember to use the “Get Vaccinated Oregon” web-based tool to check vaccine eligibility and sign up for updates. You also can call 211; text ORCOVID to 898211; email [email protected]; or visit OHA’s COVID-19 vaccine website.
OSU Testing and Positive Case Count
Benton County remains in the extreme risk category, and COVID-19 positive case count has been highly concentrated in the 20-29 age group. Increased case counts have followed expanded testing by OSU beginning Feb. 1 among asymptomatic students living in residence halls and members of fraternities and sororities. Testing of more than 2,400 students weekly was expanded when analysis showed increases in viral markers within wastewater collected from residence halls and in neighborhoods around Greek living units. An increase in positive cases among symptomatic students also was reported in early Winter term by OSU’s Corvallis campus Student Health Services.
OSU’s testing allows us to quickly identify, trace, and contain the virus in our communities. Testing of asymptomatic individuals also identifies cases that would otherwise go undetected, spreading to those who may experience serious and potentially deadly illness. We also recognize that our volume of testing asymptomatic individuals has undoubtedly impacted county case counts and contributed to Benton County’s categorization as extreme.
The state of Oregon’s Risk and Protection Framework ranks counties by COVID-19 risk levels based upon criteria that include the rate of cases per 100,000 population; the number of positive cases recorded in the past 14 days; and the county’s virus positivity rate. The state ranks counties every two weeks as low, moderate, high, or extreme risks. In collaboration with OSU, Benton County intends to initiate conversations with the Oregon Health Authority and the Governor’s Office about considering changes to Oregon’s Risk and Protection Framework. Benton County intends to propose inclusion of three additional metrics in any future adjustments to the Risk and Protection Framework: testing volume, number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and number of ICU beds in use.
While the number of positive cases is concerning, and we all must do our part to minimize transmission and spread, we believe it is reasonable for the state to evaluate additional risk factors that consider a more comprehensive assessment that balances health and safety, along with economic viability.
In the meantime, please let’s continue to work together to lower the number of positive cases by wearing our masks, keeping physical distance, limiting group size, quarantining if you are a close contact of someone who tested positive, and isolating if you are diagnosed with COVID-19.
March 4 Town Hall
Remember to join us at an Oregon State University COVID-19 town hall on Thursday, March 4, at 10 a.m.
Thank you for continuing to remain patient and resilient, and most importantly, adhering to personal and public health measures in your studies, teaching, research, outreach, and work on Oregon State University campuses, in your personal residences, and throughout Oregon and beyond locations.
Coronavirus Response Coordinator
Vice Provost for Student Affairs