Oregon to lift indoor mask mandate March 19
SALEM, Ore. (KPTV) - State health officials are lifting Oregon’s indoor mask mandate for public places and schools on March 19, 12 days before the initial end date.
According to a news release from the Oregon Health Authority, hospitalizations continue to drop statewide and are projected to reach pre-Omicron levels - 400 or fewer people per day - by March 20.
Originally, OHA said the mask mandate for indoor public places would end March 31, or earlier if COVID numbers improved. The mask mandate in public schools was also set to end on March 31.
“We are able to take this important step, earlier than anticipated, because of the collective diligence and the shared sacrifice that people in Oregon have demonstrated in getting vaccinated, wearing masks and limiting their gatherings,” Dean Sidelinger, M.D. MSEd, health officer and state epidemiologist, said in a prepared statement.
State officials highly recommend that people in high-risk groups continue to wear masks in indoor public settings even after the restrictions are lifted. They include people who are at higher risk because they are unvaccinated; immunocompromised; have underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of complications; are 65 or older; or who live with someone in one of those categories.
State officials also continue to strongly recommend universal masking in K-12 settings where children are required to attend, but it’s up to each school district to decide whether masking rules will remain.
Also on Thursday, Gov. Kate Brown announced that she will lift the state’s COVID emergency declaration effective April 1, though most of Brown’s executive orders were lifted in June 2021.
“Over the past six months, as Oregon weathered our worst surges of the pandemic, I’m proud of the way Oregonians have worked together to keep each other safe,” Brown said in a news release. “Lifting Oregon’s COVID-19 emergency declaration today does not mean that the pandemic is over, or that COVID-19 is no longer a significant concern. But, as we have shown through the Delta and Omicron surges, as we learn to live with this virus, and with so many Oregonians protected by safe and effective vaccines, we can now protect ourselves, our friends, and our families without invoking the extraordinary emergency authorities that were necessary at the beginning of the pandemic.”
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