PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One of the last public spaces to require masks announces it will no longer do so, following a decision by a federal judge in Florida to strike down the national mask mandate on public transportation.  

TriMet announced Tuesday that it would no longer require face coverings on its trains after navigating a web of state and federal guidelines.  

“We were following the guidelines and the rules that came down to us from the TSA, while also following the health guidelines of the CDC and Oregon Health Authority,” Tyler Graf, the public information officer for TriMet, told KOIN 6 News.  

Masks are still encouraged, particularly by Multnomah County Public Health which issued a release of its own Tuesday, urging riders to keep wearing masks on public transportation.  

The public health director for the county, Jessica Guernsey, said the federal ruling on masks “doesn’t change the facts.” 

“The combined factors of both proximity to people and potentially less ventilation really makes it a unique environment that we would continue to strongly urge people to mask while they’re using transportation,” Guernsey said in an interview with KOIN 6 News.  

Graf says TriMet will continue to offer masks on trains for people who want them, though the signs and announcements about them being required will start to be removed over the next few days. 

“We want people to feel safe and comfortable onboard so, with masks being optional now, we’re really hoping people be respectful of the decisions that others make,” Graf said. 

For Guernsey’s part, she sees masks as something that shouldn’t just go away and she doesn’t believe they will go away into the future.  

Not only does she see masks as an effective way to hold back COVID-19, but other respiratory viruses as well. She says it will be part of the tools they can implement in the future to control disease.  

“I think of it more as a volume gauge or a temperature gauge where you will see us come and talk to folks about dialing up and dialing down. We’re really trying to move away from these dichotomous ‘yes or no’ decisions and really give people the information of what they need,” Guernsey said. 

Currently, it’s almost a dialed-down phase. Guernsey says cases are rising, though not at rates seen in earlier stages of the pandemic. To that end, the rise in cases has not translated into an increase in deaths and hospitalizations at the same rate, though she notes a bump on those metrics of late.