A tip of the hat to Umatilla County for moving down from high to moderate risk this week.

The change allows businesses, such as restaurants, gyms and theaters to operate at higher capacity, and signals a safer environment for county residents in general. It comes at a time when Oregon as a whole is seeing a new upward trend in cases, as are most other states.

The world is in a race between new, more contagious and dangerous variants of COVID-19 and our ability to protect people through vaccination. The time period we are in now is crucial to determining how quickly we can get back to “normal” life. Our actions now will determine what events, such as the Pendleton Round-Up and Umatilla County Fair, will look like later this year.

We know the recipe for reopening — quickly getting as many people vaccinated as possible, and until we have reached safe herd immunity levels, wearing masks properly over the nose and mouth while around people not in our household, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and moving more things outside.

Umatilla County has been doing much better than last year. Let’s stay on that path.

A kick in the pants to the dispute that has caused the American Legion to stop meeting at the VFW building in Hermiston. Different people we have talked to about the situation, both on and off the record, have varying accounts of what happened and who is to blame. But whatever is going on, the interpersonal drama that seems to be at play is a distraction from serving veterans — a mission both organizations share.

We hope to see those involved put aside any differences they may have and work together to make both organizations a strong asset to local veterans and their families.

A tip of the hat to Bailey Munck, the 17-year-old Weston-McEwen High School student who testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee of the Oregon Legislature in favor of a bill named after her, which would increase penalties for sexually abusing a minor if the defendant is the victim’s teacher.

Munck’s bravery in sharing her story of abuse with the committee in March and with readers of the East Oregonian this week is something she should be proud of for the rest of her life, and will likely lead to changes that help future generations of students find justice.

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