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About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View Entire Issue (July 14, 2021)
WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 2021
Oregon’s vaccine eﬀorts ongoing
Dianne Lugo and Dora Totoian
Salem Statesman Journal
USA TODAY NETWORK
Hundreds of Oregonians joined Gov. Kate Brown
in Providence Park recently to celebrate the end of
most pandemic restrictions.
Capacity limits and mask mandates were lifted
despite the state lagging far behind its 70% vaccina-
tion goals among communities of color.
Fewer than 46% of Black, Alaskan Native/Amer-
ican Indian and Latinx individuals in the state have
each received at least one dose of any COVID-19 vac-
cine, compared to 60.3% of white residents.
In Marion County, rates are even lower for the
county’s Black and American Indian/Alaska Native
population, at 35.8% and 35.2%. Among Latinos, the
rate was 48.2%. The rate was 62.2% among white in-
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately
impacted people of color. During his remarks on
stage at Providence Park, Pat Allen, director of the
Oregon Health Authority, acknowledged the pan-
demic’s harsh toll.
Allen thanked health care workers and held a mo-
ment of silence to honor the 2,774 Oregonians who
died of COVID-19. He also referenced two murals in
the lobby of the OHA’s Public Health Division oﬃce
that depict the Northwest tribal story about a great
“It’s not lost on me that the mural represents a
plague aﬀecting the local Native American popula-
tion, just as this pandemic has done,” Allen said.
“Turns out that story helped serve as a warning that
disease and death don’t impact everyone equally.
That those not served well by our health systems also
suﬀer most when dark times come.”
“Was it all enough? In a sense, no,” he said.
Community advocates and organizations agree.
Today, vaccination rates among communities of
color outpace the rate of white Oregonians receiving
the COVID-19 shots.
It is growth that Olivia Quiroz, executive director
of the Oregon Latino Health Coalition, said repre-
sents the state playing catch-up when it comes to
vaccinating communities of color.
While it’s concerning in some ways for the gover-
nor to “reopen” the state when such disparities exist,
she said, improvements in vaccinating people of col-
or show the state has been capable of equitably dis-
tributing the vaccine.
“We’re probably three months behind in regards to
getting our communities closer to the 70% bench-
mark, and now we have the delta variant. When those
things are thrown in the mix of everything else, it
makes it a bit harder to feel at ease as to how that
would have an impact on the Latino community,” Qui-
roz said. “What we wanted to see six months ago when
the vaccine came to the state, we’re seeing it in an eq-
uitable basis right now, so we know they can do this
‘It wasn’t where we wanted to be’
According to the latest OHA data, vaccination rates
among Black, American Indian and Alaskan Natives
and Latinx people grew between 1.3% and 1.5% from
June 21 to June 28, doubling the growth rate among
Gov. Kate Brown faced criticism early in the vaccine
rollout for prioritizing teachers over categories that
typically include more individuals from communities
of color, such as front-line workers and agricultural
Brown at the time defended her decision.
“The harsh reality is we do not have enough vac-
cines,” she said. “There are no easy answers here, only
Oregon began vaccinating educators in late January,
and then expanded to older residents. The state
opened vaccinations to agricultural workers at the end
of March, and to other front-line workers, such as retail
clerks and restaurant workers, a week later, despite de-
claring all these workers essential.
OHA’s tiered vaccine distribution system contribut-
ed to the stark disparities in vaccination rates between
people of color and white people in Oregon, Quiroz
For example, the Latino population in Oregon tends
to be younger than the general population and is more
likely to comprise the essential workforce, Quiroz said.
“Initially, we didn’t have enough vaccines,” Rachel
Banks, director of public health at the Oregon Health
“We had to kind of allocate them as we went,” added
Delia Hernández, a spokesperson with the OHA. “At the
beginning, [vaccines] were pretty limited to health care
workers. And then as we went on we were able to open
Banks said the OHA intentionally “pulled out” agri-
cultural workers “ahead of other essential workers” in
an eﬀort to protect farmworkers.
Daysi Bedolla Sotelo, organizing director at PCUN,
Oregon’s farmworker union, served on Oregon’s CO-
VID-19 vaccine advisory committee and helped advo-
cate to move migrant and seasonal farmworkers, sea-
Patient Specialist Jeffrey Tolbert wears a bandage
after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine through Salem
Health on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020 at Salem Hospital
in Salem, Oregon. ABIGAIL DOLLINS / STATESMAN JOURNAL
food and agricultural workers and food processing
workers into a slightly earlier eligibility group.
“It wasn’t where we wanted to be, but it deﬁnitely
moved us up,” Bedolla Sotelo said. “We heard from
community members, ‘They’re calling us essential
workers, but they’re not giving us essential treatment.’
And that’s very heartbreaking to hear. Without them,
we wouldn’t have food on our tables and eat everything
we eat every day. We would’ve loved for them to be
right there with nurses and ﬁrst responders.”
‘Committed to eliminating the gaps’
The OHA credits ongoing outreach and education
eﬀorts in partnership with community organizations
for the recent growth in vaccination rates among com-
munities of color.
OHA and Brown announced a Latinx vaccination
plan in June. It aims to accelerate vaccinations through
partnerships with Latinx community-based organiza-
tions, allocating enough vaccine doses to federally
qualiﬁed health centers and improving their communi-
cation with Latinx communities.
“We have a program at OHA that’s sort of a match-
making program — as we fondly talk about it — where
we fund over 100, about 170, community-based organi-
zations,” Banks said.
She said earlier in the pandemic, the OHA focused
on providing outreach, education and contact tracing.
See VACCINE, Page 4A
“With his mom being a previous Habi-
tat homeowner, she gave us a lot of
tips about homeownership and ideas
of how everything went for her and
we got the main idea of how it was
going to work for us, as well.”
Continued from Page 1A
The aﬃliate purchased the land in
August for $315,000 and started con-
struction on one house on the lot prior to
getting the entire development ap-
By purchasing the land, it passed a
“There’s a lot more opportunity of
scale to develop multiple units like this,”
said Steve Kay, the planner for the pro-
ject and former community develop-
ment director for Silverton. “This will al-
low them to phase the project over a pe-
riod of time.”
Board member Dixon Bledsoe, a Real-
tor, found the property and brought it to
the board. The aﬃliate agreed to pur-
chase the land prior to the COVID-19
pandemic, but then backed out of the
deal to ensure it had ﬁnancial reserves to
After getting a loan from the Small
Business Administration, it purchased
the 1.9 acres in August 2020.
“We have a great partnership with the
City of Silverton where they waive the
(system development charge) fees for
us,” Johnsen said. “The city sees the
According to a housing needs analy-
sis by ECONorthwest, Silverton is pro-
jected to need 1,158 new units by 2040 to
meet the anticipated demand. Between
2016 and 2018, housing prices rose 75%
in the city.
The ﬁrst residents of the
When Ezra Constante was 14, his
mother, Laura, was the recipient of a
Habitat for Humanity house in their
hometown of Woodburn.
Even after that experience in which
he helped build the house, he still found
he had a lot to learn about buying a home
when he started looking a few years ago.
Future resident in the new Habitat for Humanity
subdivision in Silverton
Ezra Constante, 6, tours the garage in his family's future home in a new 18-unit
subdivision in Silverton.
BRIAN HAYES/STATESMAN JOURNAL
Now 29, he and his wife, Elizabeth,
have three children age 6 and younger.
They were living with his mother and
her ﬁancée in the two-bedroom house in
Woodburn until moving into a two-bed-
room apartment not far away.
They took ﬁnancial literacy courses
and saved money until they were ap-
proved for a house in the new develop-
“With his mom being a previous Hab-
itat homeowner, she gave us a lot of tips
about homeownership and ideas of how
everything went for her and we got the
main idea of how it was going to work for
us, as well,” Elizabeth Constante said.
Johnsen said the neighborhood will
have a homeowner’s association.
The owners of the next houses
haven’t yet been chosen. They will be se-
lected by the aﬃliate from among future
Prospective homeowners are chosen
based on their need for aﬀordable hous-
ing and then invest “sweat equity” in the
construction and pay a mortgage on the
Johnsen said the North Willamette
Valley Habitat for Humanity choses
from its applicants once per year. To ap-
ply, go to https://www.habitat.org/
housing-help/apply or call 1-800-422-
“It’s deﬁnitely cool to see that we’re
going to start seeing neighbors popping
up,” Ezra Constante said. “We’re going to
be here. We can volunteer and won’t be
The property where Constante’s
house is being built had been parti-
tioned prior to the purchase of the 1.9-
acre plot so the organization could start
building that house before receiving ap-
proval for the rest of the development.
“Now if we can get funding to come
through and help with infrastructure,
because that is our biggest cost, and
that’s the one thing that people don’t like
to donate for,” Johnsen said. “We put in
for some federal grants.”
Each of the Constante’s three chil-
dren will soon have their own bedrooms.
Construction manager Ben Wilt said
the aﬃliate is hoping to ﬁnish the house
for the Constante family by the end of
“We’re building longer-term relation-
ships and engaging with a single com-
munity a little longer in one spot,” he
said. “It works out more aﬀordable per
Bill Poehler covers Marion County for
the Statesman Journal. Contact him at
Caitlin Davis CFP® Chip Hutchings
West | 503-585-1464
Lancaster | 503-585-4689
Mission | 503-363-0445
Commercial | 503-370-6159
Garry Falor CFP®
West | 503-588-5426
South | 503-362-5439
Keizer | 503-393-8166
Sublimity | 503-769-3180
Silverton | 503-873-2454
Dallas | 503-623-2146
The Constante family tours their Mid-Valley Habitat for Humanity home in a new
18-unit subdivision in Silverton, Oregon on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. BRIAN HAYES
/ STATESMAN JOURNAL