Oregon to lift mask mandate for schools, indoor public places March 12

Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 11:48 AM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Oregon Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority have once again updated their masking guidance as COVID-19 cases, rates and hospitalizations continue to decline.

The OHA announced Monday that the rule requiring masks in indoor public places and schools will be lifted after 11:59 p.m. on March 11. The governor’s office said other state and federal requirements, such as those for health care settings, public transit, and other specialized settings, will remain in place for a period of time.

Originally, OHA said the mask mandate for indoor public places and schools would end March 31, or earlier if COVID numbers improved. State health officials then moved the end date last week to March 19.

According to the latest data from OHSU, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Oregon is declining faster than expected. OHA said hospitalizations are projected to reach pre-Omicron levels - 400 or fewer people per day - by March 20.

“Two years ago today, we identified Oregon’s first case of COVID-19. As has been made clear time and again over the last two years, COVID-19 does not stop at state borders or county lines. On the West Coast, our communities and economies are linked. Together, as we continue to recover from the Omicron surge, we will build resiliency and prepare for the next variant and the next pandemic,” Brown said in a statement. “As we learn to live with this virus, we must remain vigilant to protect each other and prevent disruption to our schools, businesses, and communities - with a focus on protecting our most vulnerable and the people and communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.”

Last week, Brown announced that she will lift the state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration effective April 1, though most of Brown’s executive orders were lifted in June 2021.

California and Washington also announced new masking guidance on Monday in conjunction with Oregon.

In Washington, the indoor mask requirements will be lifted as of 11:59 p.m. on March 11. Masks will still be required in certain settings in Washington including health care corrections facilities, and long-term facilities.

The Washington State Department of Health will be issuing new guidance for K-12 schools next week.

“We’ve continued to monitor data from our state Department of Health, and have determined we are able to adjust the timing of our statewide mask requirement. While this represents another step forward for Washingtonians, we must still be mindful that many within our communities remain vulnerable,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement Monday. “Many businesses and families will continue choosing to wear masks, because we’ve learned how effective they are at keeping one another safe. As we transition to this next phase, we will continue to move forward together carefully and cautiously.”

Starting Tuesday, masks will no longer be required, but will be strongly recommended for unvaccinated people in most indoor settings in California. Then after March 11, in schools and child care facilities, masks will not be required, but will be strongly recommended.

California officials said masks will still be required for everyone in high transmission settings like public transit, emergency shelters, healthcare settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities.