Oregon To Become Tenth State To Reimplement Indoor Mask Mandate

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Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Oregon is reimplementing an indoor mask mandate regardless of individual’s vaccination status, Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday.

Brown claimed that the increase in COVID-19 related cases and hospitalizations could strain the state’s health care system, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The mandate, set to take effect on Friday, will require unvaccinated and vaccinated Oregonians over the age of five to wear masks in public indoor spaces, according to the AP.

Public indoor spaces include grocery stores, restaurants, indoor entertainment venues, gyms, and other businesses. However, the mandate includes carve-outs for certain activities, such as eating, drinking, and organized sports, the AP noted. On public transit, individuals over the age of two years old, regardless of their vaccination status, will have to wear a face mask, the AP reported.

“Oregon is facing a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations — consisting overwhelmingly of unvaccinated individuals — that is quickly exceeding the darkest days of our winter surge,” Brown claimed, according to the AP. “When our hospitals are full, there will be no room for additional patients needing care — whether for COVID-19, a heart attack or stroke, a car collision, or a variety of other emergency situations.”

As of Tuesday, 635 people were hospitalized in Oregon due to COVID-19, which is higher than the previous record of 622 set last November before vaccines were available, the AP noted. However, while cases and hospitalizations have spiked, deaths remain less than a fifth of what they were at peak levels, The New York Times’ COVID-19 tracker for Oregon showed. The state’s seven-day average was 5.6 deaths, according to the New York Times. (RELATED: Even With Breakthrough Cases, The Data Doesn’t Seem To Support Mask Mandates For Vaccinated People)

Previously, Brown encouraged municipalities to implement mask mandates for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, but very few did, the AP reported. Counties that replied to the AP’s inquiry regarding the state’s mask mandate said they were concerned about the recent spike in cases, but were not going to reimpose mask mandates.

“At this point, those who are most likely to adhere to a mask mandate are already vaccinated, so I’m not convinced new mandates will be all that effective in containing the Delta variant,” Elizabeth Farrar Campbell, a judge in Gilliam County, told the AP.

Oregon joins nine other states — California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Washington— as well as Washington, D.C., currently have active mask mandates.

Several municipalities in states without mask mandates, such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have recently started requiring masks as well.