PORTLAND, Ore (KOIN) — Compared to other states during the pandemic, Oregon liberally applied mandates and restrictions on many aspects of everyday life, including mask-wearing.
Oregon and the other West Coast states, Washington and California, have often been very similar in their mandates, guidelines and restrictions. Now, all 3 states are lifting mask mandate restrictions soon.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s office announced Monday that masking indoors will be “recommended”, but no longer “required” As of March 12. This comes after last week when Brown and the the Oregon Health Authority announced the state would end indoor mask requirements for public indoor spaces and Oregon schools on March 19.
Ben Gaskins, a political science professor at Lewis and Clark College, told KOIN 6 News it “was a little bit surprising at one level that [Thursday’s] announcement was made this early.”
“Even in a state like Oregon there is a limit to (public tolerance) for the inconveniences that come with masking in schools, masking inside, and that has to come to an end at some point,” Gaskins said. “There is a desire for tangible metrics, not just saying this is a new normal, but there are things that the government is actually pointing to as a goal to remove some of these ore restrictive policies.”
No one wants to be accused of playing politics with public health. But Gaskins said all these decisions “are inherently political and are incredibly political because political actors are the ones making this cost-benefit analysis.”
Gaskins believes if the mask mandate is dropped it will be harder to re-instate it unless there is a dramatic change in the virulence of the coronavirus.
Even though Brown is not running for re-election she doesn’t want to burden the next Democratic nominee with the decisions she’s making — a backlash for restrictions that are too heavy or not enough. Handling of the pandemic, educaton and the economy are the most important issues for voters, he said.
” If there is enough broad level satisfaction and if the Republican candidates are not seen as too extreme on other issues there’s certainly a possibility that people will switch parties or not support the parties in power,” Gaskins said.