Oregon is preparing to reinstate a statewide mandate, ordering vaccinated and unvaccinated people to use face coverings when gathering indoors, just the third state to do so.
Governor Kate Brown of Oregon, a Democrat, said on Tuesday that she would officially announce the return of the mask’s tenure on Wednesday. She said masks were needed to combat the increase in the number of cases caused by the Delta variant, and that face covers were a simple tool to help keep schools and businesses open.
“After a year and a half of this pandemic, I know Oregonians are tired of the health and safety restrictions,” Ms. Brown said. in a report. “This new mask requirement will not last forever, but it is a step that can save lives now.”
While many states implemented mask warrants and other restrictions last year, they have been reluctant to re-enforce such orders amid a growing number of cases. Two states led by Republican governors, Texas and Florida, have banned mask warrants entirely, although some local leaders plan to impose them anyway.
Some states have mask warrants for unvaccinated people who congregate indoors, but Oregon joins Louisiana and Hawaii as the only states to extend warrants to vaccinated people as well. Washington, DC, has also reinstated its mask mandate, as have several major cities.
Oregon has gone through the pandemic with some of the lowest numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths in the country. But cases in the state, as in much of the country, have increased in recent days, from a daily average of 110 a month ago to more than 1,180. With 84 percent of the population the most vulnerable, those over 65, fully vaccinated, the increase in the number of deaths was much smaller, reaching a daily average of six on Wednesday.
But Covid hospitalizations have quadrupled in the past month, and the average daily inpatients is over 550.
Ms Brown’s office cited new modeling that predicts the state’s hospital capacity could be exceeded in the coming weeks if mitigation measures are not in place, leaving Oregon with up to 500 beds at runs by September.
“When our hospitals are full, there will be no room for additional patients in need of care – whether it’s for Covid-19, a heart attack or stroke, a car collision or a variety of other emergencies, ”Ms. Brown said. “If our hospitals run out of staffed beds, all Oregonians will be at risk. “
Ms Brown also announced that all employees working under the executive branch of the state would be required to be fully immunized. Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, announced a similar term on Monday.