Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Gov. Kate Brown has extended Oregon's state of emergency for another 60 days as it continues to experience a gradual decline in COVID-19 cases.
The declaration, made initially in March, was extended by Brown on Thursday to last until May 2 to maintain the legal foundation of Brown's COVID-19-related executive orders and the state's health and safety guidance as well as the state's access to federal funds and assistance.
"Throughout the pandemic, Oregonians have made smart choices that have protected our families and loved ones and saved thousands of lives. We helped our doctors, nurses and healthcare workers from being overwhelmed last spring and again during the winter surge." she said in a statement. "Our infection and mortality rates have consistently remain some of the lowest in the country. And for the first time, COVID-19 critical care units are seeing fewer and fewer patients."
The declaration was made as the Oregon Health Authority reported 553 new cases on Thursday and 10 deaths, lifting its total infections to more than 154,500, including more than 2,200 deaths.
Thursday's figure continues a gradual decline in cases from the record 2,176 on Dec. 4.
The state also began inoculating its residents against the virus late last year, and has since administered more than 880,000 vaccine doses, according to data from the Oregon Health Authority, adding more than 330,000 of who have have received both doses of the two-dose regime.
Data collected by Johns Hopkins University says 7.2% of Oregon's populations is fully vaccinated.
"As we vaccinate thousands of Oregonians each day and reopen more school buildings and businesses as safely as possible, now is not the time to let up our guard," Brown said. "We will continue to keep each other safe in the months to come by following the same safety measures we have throughout the pandemic -- wearing face coverings, staying home when sick, maintaining physical distance and avoiding social gatherings."