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Earlier this week, Oregonians got some rare positive news about the COVID-19 pandemic: Due to a change in the federal government’s vaccine rollout strategy, the number of people in the state eligible to get vaccinated was increasing substantially. Specifically, K-12 teachers and all Oregonians 65 and older could sign up to get their first vaccine dose this month.
Now, thanks to a massive fuckup from the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed program, those optimistic plans are in danger.
Friday morning, Gov. Kate Brown announced that officials from the federal vaccine rollout effort had deceived her, by stating that they were releasing all the vaccine doses in the federal stockpile—enough to vaccinate all those teachers and elderly Oregonians. In fact, Brown said in a statement, “states will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines from the national stockpile next week, because there is no federal reserve of doses.”
Brown said she was informed of this sucker-punch last night, by General Gustave Perna of Operation Warp Speed. From her statement:
“I am demanding answers from the Trump Administration. I am shocked and appalled that they have set an expectation on which they could not deliver, with such grave consequences.
This is a deception on a national scale. Oregon’s seniors, teachers, and all of us were depending on the promise of Oregon’s share of the federal reserve of vaccines being released to us.”
In a letter addressed to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) director Patrick Allen said the news of an empty federal vaccine reserve “puts our plans to expand eligibility at grave risk.”
“Those plans were made on the basis of reliance on your statement about ‘releasing the entire supply’ you have in reserve,” Allen continued. “If this information is accurate, we will be unable to begin vaccinating our vulnerable seniors on January 23rd, as planned.”
Brown will likely elaborate at a 2 pm Friday press conference, which the public can watch here.
The news has been confirmed this morning by reporting in the Washington Post.
In the end, it’s hard to tell who really holds the blame here: The Trump administration, for lying about how many vaccines they had during a deadly pandemic; or us, the general public, for believing a bunch of seditious yahoos who un-ironically use the term “Operation Warp Speed” could get anything right.
(Just kidding, it’s definitely their fault.)