PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Federal and state health officials are recommending some Oregon residents start masking up again as COVID-19 cases climb.
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Community Levels recommendations, six Oregon counties are currently classified as being at “medium” risk.
Residents in those counties — Multnomah, Washington, Columbia, Clackamas, Deschutes and Benton — are being recommended to wear masks indoors if they’re at high-risk for severe illness and to take other precautions.
Oregon Health Authority’s Dr. Dean Sidelinger on Wednesday told reporters the current surge is the result of the BA.2 subvariant. Despite the uptick in numbers — with 600 cases reported on April 20 compared to 1,350 cases reported on May 16 — officials believe there is an undercount as a result of those testing positive at home and not reporting to a public health authority.
The recommendation from the OHA comes on the heels of federal health officials warning that one-third of Americans live in areas with a higher infection rate and should consider wearing a mask indoors, the New York Times reports.
However, Sidelinger told reporters on Wednesday OHA is “optimistic” that the current surge in cases will not overwhelm the state’s hospitals as a result of existing vaccination levels and previous exposure to the COVID-19 virus.