(Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown held a press conference today to update Oregonians on the status of COVID-19 in Oregon. The Governor was joined by Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Director Patrick Allen, State Epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger, Oregon Primary Care Association Executive Director Joan Watson-Patko, and Virginia Garcia Memorial Health System Director of Quality Dr. Sarah Deines. In addition, the Governor shared a video from earlier this morning of former State Senator Margaret Carter getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Portland.

“Oregonians continue to make smart choices, and the numbers speak for themselves,” said Governor Brown. “As of yesterday, Oregon had the third lowest infection rate in the nation. And while this is great news, we must remain vigilant in the face of challenges ahead with the new variants. We advise Oregonians to continue to follow safety measures and choose your activities wisely so that you are minimizing risk as best you can.

“I am pleased to share that we now have more than 131,000 students back in the classroom. That’s 20% of our state’s students, and more than double what it was eight weeks ago when I directed the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority to put more schools on track for in-person instruction. All educators who want a vaccine will soon be fully vaccinated, but we also continue to see the clear science that with rigorous health and safety protocols in place, schools can safely reopen. It is my expectation that more and more schools will bring students back for in-person learning over the coming weeks, and I will continue to do all I can to help make this a reality for our kids.

“I also want to thank every grandchild, son, daughter, neighbor, and friend who has helped our older adults register for vaccine appointments, driven them to vaccination sites, and supported them throughout this pandemic. Despite the severe winter weather over the Presidents Day weekend, we remain on schedule to open vaccinations to people 70 and older on Monday, February 22, and to people 65 and older on Monday, March 1.”

The Governor also provided a brief update on recent winter weather, adding: “I want to thank all the local and state workers, first responders, and utility crews who continue to work around the clock to restore power and aid families in need. I declared a state of emergency over the weekend to ensure state resources were made available to help crews on the ground. I have also made the National Guard available to work in partnership with county emergency management in conducting wellness checks. I encourage Oregonians to check in on your neighbors, especially if they are elderly or vulnerable.”

A copy of the Governor’s prepared remarks from today’s press conference is available here.