Portland, OR

Portland Daily Round Up: Oregon reaches 80% vaccination milestone, DOJ says PSR can respond to suicide calls

Emily Scarvie

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By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Friday, Oct. 29 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Oregon reaches 80% adult vaccination milestone on Thursday

The Oregon Health Authority reported a new milestone on Thursday: 80% of Oregonians 18 years and older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Due to reporting from federal facilities, the CDC’s database shows a slightly higher percentage.

Of all Oregonians, including children who aren’t yet eligible for vaccines, 68% have received at least one shot and 63% are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The state ranks 12th in the U.S. for percentage of people fully vaccinated.

Despite this, OHA says Oregon is still below the level of “herd immunity” needed to stop the virus from spreading. The state reported 24 new COVID-related deaths, 1,116 new cases and 518 hospitalizations on Thursday.

2. Portland Street Response can respond to suicide calls, DOJ says

During testimony at a meeting of the Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice said it won’t stand in the way of the city allowing Portland Street Response to respond to suicide calls. PSR dispatches teams of four that include a firefighter paramedic, licensed mental health crisis therapist and two community health workers. The teams respond to non-violent calls involving homelessness and mental health issues, instead of police.

As city officials move towards expanding PSR, the program’s inability to respond to suicide calls has been repeatedly cited as an issue. In a recent report from the Compliance Officer and Community Liaison, recommendations were provided to improve PSR before to a citywide expansion, including not limiting the range of mental health call types they can respond to.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty recently told KGW that she would be introducing a $1 million expansion for the eight-month old pilot program during Portland’s fall adjustment process and would ask for a formal expansion next March.

3. Oregonians could see the northern lights this weekend

After a strong solar flare sent a mass of energy toward earth Thursday, Oregonians may get to witness the northern lights this Halloween weekend, as early as Friday night. In order to see the lights, residents will need to be far away from the city, in areas where there’s little to no light pollution.

According to the National Weather Center’s space weather prediction center, the energy mass could cause minor problems for GPS and the electrical grid.

4. Health officials share ways to celebrate Halloween safely this year

While COVID cases have been slowly declining in Oregon, local health officials still have recommendations for Halloween this year to keep everyone safe. According to Multnomah County Public Health Director Jessica Guernsey, it’s okay to celebrate Halloween, Dia de los Muertos and go trick-or-treating, but everyone is still recommended to wear masks under Oregon’s mandate.

Guernsey also recommended getting COVID-19 and flu vaccines if eligible, avoiding crowds and stepping outside your house to hand out candy.

“It’s important to keep in mind that younger kids can’t get vaccinated, so for holidays that are more focused on younger kids, we have to keep that in mind. That’s why some of our precautions are still the same,” Guernsey said.

Anyone planning a gathering is recommended to keep it small and outside.

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