Brown resurrects Oregon-wide mask mandate
Wearing a face mask will not be an option for Oregonians in indoor spaces, Governor Kate Brown announced.
This includes people working in his office, said Brown on Tuesday, who must also provide proof of full vaccination by Oct. 18 or six weeks after any new vaccine has been approved by the federal government, whichever is later. The order the governor announced on Tuesday applies to all who work for the state executive. This includes the offices of the State Treasurer, the Secretary of State and the Ministry of Justice. COVID testing will not be an option, nor will personal, religious or philosophical exemptions.
In a statement on Tuesday, Brown said Oregonians now have two options to reduce case rates: hide or get stung. The message marks a dramatic change in tone for the governor, who last month left companies to issue and enforce their own health mandates.
Healthcare workers remain the largest demographic of public employees exempt from Brown’s tenure due to state law. However, Oregon Democrats in the state legislature have expressed interest in reviewing the law.
Modeling from the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Health and Science University released Tuesday estimated that COVID-related hospitalizations could push the capacity of Oregon’s health care system to its limits within weeks without intervention.
According to projections by the OHSU, Oregon could create 500 hospital beds staffed below what will be needed to treat inpatients.
“When our hospitals are full, there will be no room for additional patients in need of care, whether it be for COVID-19, a heart attack or stroke, a car collision or a variety of others. emergency situations, ”Brown said. “If our hospitals run out of staffed beds, all Oregonians will be at risk. “
On Tuesday, the number of hospital patients with COVID statewide was 635, 60 more than on Monday. According to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), this is the highest number of COVID patients the state has recorded to date.
The OHA also reported 2,329 new cases – a record eight months – and nine new deaths from the virus, bringing Oregon’s cases to 232,436 and the death toll to 2,912.
Weekly case rates in Oregon have almost tripled from what they were in April before vaccinations were made available to the general public. Metro areas like Multnomah County have reinstated the rules on face masks in response.
Face masks will also be back in Oregon schools this fall for students as well as staff. They will apply to everyone, regardless of vaccination status.
“This new mask requirement won’t last forever, but it’s a step that can save lives right now,” Brown said. “It will help protect all of us, including people with compromised immune systems and our children under 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.”
Brown’s latest order looks like a watered-down version of similar rules published in a host of Democratic-led states. In Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee has issued strict requirements that all state employees get vaccinated without any exemptions except for medical exemptions.
Brown will hold a press conference Wednesday to elaborate on the new health rules.