Dear friends and neighbors,

By now, you may have read about some big changes to the State’s reopening plans. Gov. Kate Brown announced that she would replace the current reopening plan that is based on counties’ levels of COVID-19 spread with an approach to reopen the state once 70 percent of Oregon’s adult population is vaccinated. 

This new framework actually lets individual counties reopen even quicker if they meet two requirements:

  1. Vaccinate 65 percent of people 16 and older with at least a first dose, and 

  2. Submit to Oregon Health Authority an equity plan detailing how the county will address disparities in vaccine rates among communities of color.

The governor made this announcement on Tuesday afternoon, and said that she would begin accepting equity plans today, May 14. Counties that submit their plans at this earliest possible date would have the option to move into the “Lower Risk” category as soon as next Friday, May 21.

The State’s guidelines for the equity plan, which we received Wednesday morning, include questions about closing gaps, improving confidence in vaccines among community members and engaging partners. Throughout the pandemic, Multnomah County has been intentional about co-creating a COVID-19 response that prioritizes the needs of communities who face the steepest barriers to accessing services and resources with culturally specific partners and members of those communities. I believe that we need to approach the equity component of the State’s new reopening framework with the same sense of inclusion, respect and collaboration.

Still, the County is committed to working expediently to putting that equity plan together. So in close consultation with public health leadership, community partners and local health systems, I’ve decided to submit our equity plan to OHA next Friday, May 21, with the goal of moving into “Lower Risk” on May 28, in time for the start of Memorial Day weekend.

This timeline accounts for the complex task of reaching the state metric while also continuing to protect as many people as possible — especially those who are most vulnerable — from the virus and its variants.

I know that the State’s new framework puts the prospect of reopening tantalizingly close. My goal since the start of this pandemic has been to keep people as safe as possible from COVID-19 with equity at the forefront. With this opportunity to move forward, Multnomah County will continue to act thoughtfully and with care so that we reopen in a way that doesn’t leave communities behind.

To those of you who have taken steps to get vaccinated, thank you. To those who are still thinking about it, you can find accurate information and answers to concerns about the vaccine on the County’s website

If you are in search of a clinic to receive a vaccine shot, check out this list of upcoming County clinics or visit the State’s vaccine page to find a walk-in site or make an appointment.

One of the many enduring lessons that this crisis has revealed to us over the last year is how deeply connected we are to each other. I hope that we continue to honor and lean into our interdependence as we turn the corner on the pandemic.

Please stay safe and stay healthy,

Deborah Kafoury
Multnomah County Chair

FY 2022 Budget Process

Thank you to everyone who submitted written comments or testified at either of our virtual public budget hearings. 

The investments that I’ve proposed in the FY 2022 Executive Budget are designed to address the highest and most immediate priorities in the wake of this public health emergency, to put our community in position to recover quickly and equitably from the pandemic, and to launch once-in-a-generation efforts that can, and will, transform Multnomah County for decades to come.

At $2.81 billion, this budget is far and away the largest budget that a county chair has ever proposed. But I also believe that it’s the most ambitious and forward-thinking, built to meet the needs, and leverage the opportunities, of this unique moment in our history.

Our community stands at a pivotal point between crisis and recovery. And that’s why your voice remains so valuable to the budget process this year.

Although our final budget hearings have passed, you can continue to submit written comments using this form.

Nominate a Community Service Hero for the Gladys McCoy Lifetime Achievement Award

The Gladys McCoy Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 1994 to honor Multnomah County individuals who have made outstanding contributions to our community.

Gladys McCoy was Chair of the Multnomah County Board of County Commissioners from 1987 until her death in April 1993, and became the first person of color elected to public office in Oregon when she was elected to the Portland Public Schools Board in 1970.

The award is given to an individual who has exemplified the life of the late Multnomah County Chair Gladys McCoy by making major contributions to civil and human rights, racial justice, children and youth, family issues, local politics and government, environmental issues, and/or education.

Help us find our 2021 recipient and nominate your community service hero today! Submit your nomination here.

The deadline for nominations is June 1 at 5 p.m.

The award recipient will be announced this summer, and their name will appear on a plaque with past winners on permanent public display in the Multnomah County Board Room.