Portland, OR

Portland Daily Round Up: 2/3 of Multnomah County COVID-19 cases in vaccinated people, Grant HS draws national attention

Emily Scarvie

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Wednesday, Jan. 26 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Multnomah County health officials say 2/3 of COVID-19 cases are in vaccinated people

Multnomah County health officials say two-thirds of the COVID-19 cases they’re seeing are in people who are fully vaccinated and 13% are in people who’ve had their booster shot. Officials also said they expect half of the county’s population to have had COVID-19 between mid-December and February.

“I’m not surprised by those numbers based on what some of those early reports were about with omicron and how well it gets around those initial protections from vaccines,” Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said. “The really good news is that the vaccine holds up against severe disease and hospitalizations. That is key.”

According to the Oregon Health Authority, as COVID-19 cases have increased across the state, so have vaccine breakthrough cases, but at a lower rate than in those who are unvaccinated. Health officials say it’s difficult to predict when a new variant will emerge and they’re currently working on public health recommendations for the long-term.

2. Grant High School program created to encourage discussions about race draws national attention

A student-led presentation about racism, called “Race Forward,” at Portland’s Grant High School, has become the target of criticism from a national organization. The presentation is intended to present lessons and facilitate conversations about racism that are sometimes uncomfortable. Creators of the nearly decade-long program say it’s an effort to bridge a racial divide.

The student-led presentation is given to the entire student body and faculty a couple times a year, most recently in December 2021. The “Race Forward” discussions were created after an incident that occurred in 2016, when members of the boys’ soccer team used racial slurs to taunt a teammate, and other students made racist posts on social media. Students wanted to facilitate productive conversations about racism instead of disciplinary action.

Parents Defending Education, a national organization that, according to its website, works to “reclaim our schools from activists promoting harmful agendas,” says while history is an important aspect of the curriculum, they take issue with the way the material is presented. The organization has called out Grant’s program on its website, as well as other examples of critical race theory in Portland Public Schools.

Meanwhile, students who help lead the program say they’re proud of the work that continues at Grant High School to address racism. To see an example of the “Race Forward” presentation, click here.

3. Oregon begins accepting emergency rental assistance applications once again

Following a pause in early December, Oregon Housing and Community Services is once again accepting new applications for the emergency rental assistance program starting Wednesday. The agency said the program will run for three to five weeks, depending on funding availability. Households with the most need are being prioritized; Application selection is not being done on a first-come, first-serve basis.

OHCS will process applications it received before the program was paused last month first, then begin processing applications received after Jan. 26. According to the agency, it has the funding to pay between 6,700-9,300 additional applicants.

For more information on the emergency rental assistance program, click here.

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