PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new face mask requirement will go into effect for several Oregon counties on Wednesday.
Governor Kate Brown announced a mandate that requires face masks to be worn in indoor public spaces, like stores and other businesses, for Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Hood River, Marion, Polk, and Lincoln counties. Children under 12 are exempt as well as those with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing them.
“All of our actions will determine our future,” she said as she expressed hope that people will embrace the new rule. She said face coverings don’t have to be masks, and can be bandanas or other cloth pieces.
Brown said on Thursday that businesses have the right to refuse entry to anyone not wearing a face-covering after announcing a new rule requiring them in some counties starting next week. She said people will not be arrested for not wearing a face-covering in public — but strongly encouraged residents to comply with the requirement.
The mandate comes as COVID-19 spikes have been seen in various areas of the state.
“The next few weeks will be difficult,” Brown said. “We are much better prepared than we were in early March.”
Dr. Gopal Allada, an Associate Professor of Medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care at the Department of Medicine at OHSU, said masks best prevent the spread of the disease versus preventing contracting it.
“The virus has to travel a certain distance to hit somebody and a mask does a great job of preventing that travel,” Dr. Allada explained. “We were always a little less confident that it can prevent it crossing over into the person wearing the mask.”
He said it’s important to continue studying the use of masks, as it will become a new norm. However, signs so far show that there aren’t significant harms. When studied, common complaints are that masks are uncomfortable or cause some skin irritation, which Dr. Allada said is typical with anything we put on our faces.
”The real issue that we sometimes get concerned about a little bit more is shortness of breath,” he said. “As you’d expect, somebody who may have underlying heart or lung problems may be more apt to get shortness of breath when they have a mask that’s preventing air from coming in as fast as they’d want.”
Some counties like Clatsop are giving away free masks. For more information, check your county’s official website.