Oregon Gov. Kate Brown used her weekly COVID-19 media briefing Friday to defend her decision to prioritize vaccinating teachers and other school employees ahead of seniors living outside care facilities, despite almost two weeks of criticism from groups around the state.
“I am using every single tool we have to get our kids back into the classroom this year,” said Brown, who had two teachers and a high school student and students join her in the video-conference. They described their experiences with distance learning during the pandemic and expressed support for Brown’s decision. She only answered three reporter questions in the press conference.
Related: With limited doses, many question Oregon’s plans to send teachers to the front of the vaccine line
The governor also clarified details of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination timetable. Seniors 80 and older will be eligible under the state’s rollout plan starting the week of Feb. 7. Under the governor’s plan, vaccinations for educators and seniors will wrap up on the week of May 2.
Public health officials said during the news conference that COVID-19 cases have been decreasing. For the week of Jan. 11-17, cases were 4% lower than the previous week’s. Daily case reports were down that week, as well. Oregon’s daily case count has been below 1,000 since Jan. 16. Officials cautioned that it’s too early to say if this trend will continue.