Oregon's Progress on COVID-19

The Oregon Medical Association Encourages Continued Observance of Latest Public Health Measures

Mark Fischl, MD, President 
Oregon Medical Association

March 2, 2022

On February 28, 2020, Oregon reported its first known case of COVID-19. Two years after that first case, we have seen cases, hospitalizations, and deaths rise and fall. We have been overwhelmed physically and emotionally, as a workforce and as a healthcare system. We have seen new variants, new vaccines, and multiple treatments emerge. We have all been hopeful, discouraged, and patient.

Once again, we find ourselves in a space of cautious optimism. We have made significant progress and recent trends are encouraging. Masking requirements in certain indoor public spaces will lift on Friday, March 11. As we approach a period of containment against the latest variant and public health measures change, it’s important to begin conversations about what the future can look like. How do we move closer to a “pre-pandemic normal” while at the same time remain vigilant against future outbreaks and new variants? How do we rebuild workforce and system capacity? How do we heal as a society, restore trust, and learn from the past?

Ultimately, we have the tools and know-how to keep COVID-19 at bay. We know that vaccines and boosters are part of the answer. And as other public health measures such as masking and physical distancing are scaled back, continued scrutiny of data and emerging science should guide future public health recommendations, and we must all stand together to participate.

In addition, crucial to any transition is starting conversations that heed the overwhelming and disproportionate effect the pandemic has had on medically vulnerable, low-income, and communities of color. We must address systemic issues to accessing care and ensure preventive actions among such populations are forefront.

Fundamentally, we must work to restore trust in science and be a voice of reason as we counsel patience—daily life will resume, but it will take time and a thoughtful transition. As we move forward, science and facts, as well as values and communication are essential and will help us all navigate the next chapter in this pandemic.