Governor Kate Brown announced today that Oregonians statewide will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces, beginning this Wednesday, July 1. The guidance applies to businesses and members of the public visiting indoor public spaces. Face covering requirements are already mandated in eight counties.
“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,” said Brown. “Over the last month, we have seen the disease spread at an alarming rate in both urban and rural counties. The upcoming July Fourth 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.
Brown said that the choices each Oregonian makes in the coming days matter could have a tremendous impact on reducing what recent days have shown as an alarming increase in the spread of COVID-19.
“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,” said Brown. “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.”
Brown said she want to avoid the need to close down businesses again like other states have begun doing. “If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face covering when out in public,” she added. “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.”
Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) will take the lead, along with other state and local agencies, in enforcing face covering requirements for all covered Oregon businesses.
A spokesperson from the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems said they support the governor's decision for a statewide public face covering requirement.
"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," said Becky Hultberg, CEO of the OAHHS. "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."