PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Face masks will be required throughout all of Oregon beginning Wednesday, Governor Kate Brown announced Monday.
The governor said all Oregonians will need to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces, extending her order that as of now is mandated in 8 counties.
“Over the last month, we have seen the disease spread at an alarming rate in both urban and rural counties. The upcoming July 4th holiday weekend is a critical point for Oregon in this pandemic, and we can all make a difference,” the governor said in a statement. “Modeling from the Oregon Health Authority shows that if we don’t take further action to reduce the spread of the disease, our hospitals could be overwhelmed by new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations within weeks.”
She said she does not want to close businesses again “like other states are now doing.”
The upcoming 4th of July holiday has health officials deeply concerned.
“Please keep your Fourth of July celebrations small and local. We saw a lot of new COVD-19 cases following the Memorial Day holiday,” Brown said “Another spike in cases after the upcoming holiday weekend could put Oregon in a dangerous position.”
One-on-one with Gov. Kate Brown
In a one-on-one interview with KOIN 6 News, Gov. Brown shared her concerns about “the alarming increase in cases” that led to this decision.
“We know that face coverings help prevent transmission of the disease and the scientists have been really really clear that it does make a difference,” she told KOIN 6 News. “Obviously if we continue to see the cases increase at an alarming rate, we will take other action, but my first step is to take this action in hopes that we don’t need to close down your favorite microbrew, your favorite coffee shop, your favorite book store, we want to take this step first and see how we’re doing.”
Brown said they’ve asked businesses “to step up their education and informational efforts” for customers coming to the restaurant or bar or gym.
“We are not hearing at this point in time that we’re seeing virus transmission from a local restaurant or from local bars, but we’re obviously always gathering data and waiting to see what the science and the data tell us,” she said.
The governor said she understands that some people just don’t want to wear a mask, but it is “literally up to you whether your local coffee shop stays open, whether your favorite boutique stays open. So I want to encourage Oregonians to wear their face coverings.”
Masks, she said, “make a difference in hopes that we don’t need to take more drastic action.”
Hospitals in certain states, such as Texas, are once again becoming overwhelmed. “We don’t want it to happen here in Oregon,” Brown said.
As for the 4th of July, “instead of having 100 people to your favorite BBQ bash to maybe just invite 5, the members of your household. Keep it small, keep it local, be kind, be thoughtful, be considerate of your neighbors and community members.”
The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health, along with other local agencies, will take the lead in enforcing face covering requirements for all covered Oregon businesses.
Reaction to the decision
“With cases on the rise rapidly across the state, it is now more important than ever to take this step to protect our loved ones, our neighbors, and our communities. Further, if we are to coexist alongside the disease, wide adoption of public face coverings is an essential factor in keeping our businesses and public spaces open.” — Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems
To help keep our associates and customers safe, we request all our customers wear masks while shopping in our stores – or alternatively use our ecommerce services like pickup or delivery. In locations where masks are mandated for shoppers, we support the local policy. To protect our associates and minimize the risk of disputes with customers, we uphold the mandate through door signage and in-store radio as well as the ongoing execution of additional protection measures, like protective partitions at every check lane and floor decals to further promote physical distancing. — Statement from Fred Meyer stores
Complete statement by Gov. Kate Brown on Face Covering Mandate
“From the beginning of the reopening process, I have said that reopening comes with the risk of seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases beyond our health systems’ capacity to test, trace, and isolate them. Over the last month, we have seen the disease spread at an alarming rate in both urban and rural counties. The upcoming July 4th holiday weekend is a critical point for Oregon in this pandemic, and we can all make a difference.
“Modeling from the Oregon Health Authority shows that if we don’t take further action to reduce the spread of the disease, our hospitals could be overwhelmed by new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations within weeks.
“The choices every single one of us make in the coming days matter.
“Face coverings that cover your nose and mouth play a critical role in reducing the spread of this disease because droplets from our breath can carry the virus to others without us realizing it. If we all wear face coverings, practice six feet of physical distancing in public, wash our hands regularly, and stay home when we are sick, then we can avoid the worst-case scenarios that are now playing out in other states.
“I do not want to have to close down businesses again like other states are now doing. If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face covering when out in public.
“Please keep your Fourth of July celebrations small and local. We saw a lot of new COVD-19 cases following the Memorial Day holiday. Another spike in cases after the upcoming holiday weekend could put Oregon in a dangerous position.
“Oregonians have all made incredible sacrifices over the last several months that have saved thousands of lives. The actions we take now can protect our friends, neighbors, loved ones, and fellow Oregonians from this disease, and prevent the need for another statewide shutdown. We are truly all in this together.”