PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Multnomah County is reinstating a mandatory mask mandate for indoor public settings starting Friday.
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury announced the executive order for everyone 5 and older in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination.
The new requirement starts Aug. 13, and according to Kafoury, “it will be enforced.” People could face fines of up to $1,000 but Kafoury said they will start with education before fines.
Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero also spoke at the press conference, expressing support for the new mandate. He said it helps protect students, who will also be required to wear masks at school.
The end date for the order is January 2022 – however it could end sooner.
Multnomah County Health Officer Jennifer Vines said the delta variant is to blame for the new requirement.
“A vaccinated person may still get a mild infection, and may still be contagious, which is why we’re asking everyone to wear a mask indoors,” Vines said.
The rule excludes people actively eating and drinking in food establishments.
Multnomah County is the first county in the region to reinstate a mask mandate. Washington and Clackamas counties have only issued recommendations.
“I would actually support other counties coming forward now that the governor has said this is something that’s gonna be a county by county level – I would support my other counties across the state. It’s not just Multnomah county that’s dealing with the delta variant. It’s every county in our state,” Kafoury said.
The Oregon Health Authority is reporting an increase in breakthrough COVID-19 cases. State health officials released new data last week.
The OHA reported nearly 20% of COVID-19 cases in July occurred in vaccinated people, compared to only 8% in June. However, health officials said those who were vaccinated still experienced less severe symptoms compared to those who were unvaccinated.
Of the 55 people who died of COVID in July, 91% were unvaccinated, according to OHA.