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.

A look at county-level risks in Oregon from the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels map on Wednesday, May 18, 2022. (Credit: CDC)

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.