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Multnomah County health officials strongly urge public to mask indoors again

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 10:20 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise again, so, as the BA.2 subvariant passes through, Multnomah County Health Officials and a Portland school are strongly recommending masking up indoors again as COVID outbreaks pop up.

Lisa Schroeder is no stranger to the challenges that come with the pandemic. She closed Mother’s Bistro in downtown Portland for a year because of COVID-19 and for the next week, she’s temporarily closing up shop again.

It started with two positive COVID tests.

“Then about 15 minutes later I found out it was also somebody in the kitchen, a key cook in the kitchen, then 15 minutes later I found out a sous chef had it in the kitchen so I said ok we’re calling it now,” she said.

It’s outbreaks like these that are causing Multnomah County Health officials to strongly urge masking up indoors again, not to mention increasing cases and hospitalizations.

A Portland principal said they’ve dealt with multiple outbreaks at Lincoln High School recently and sent a letter to families strongly encouraging students to mask up on campus, especially if they went to prom or their school play.

Students there said it’s not a bad idea to mask up again.

“We had a prom event, lots of people got COVID,” William Fieni-Thies, a senior at Lincoln High School, said. “Recommending students to get masks back on, I don’t have any qualms with it.”

“I think I’m alright with it and it’s still, we have the choice of masking or not masking,” Jean-Luce Henry De Tessan, a senior at Lincoln High School, said.

Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said right now the dominant strain is the BA.2 variant, saying it’s much more contagious than other variants. She said the peak of hospitalizations is expected in early June and this recommendation is here to help the community stay safe until this wave passes.

She said it would take a lot for them to reinstate an indoor mask mandate.

“It would really be if we see a significant game changer with the virus. For example, a virus that completely gets around our vaccines and starts to cause severe disease again,” Vines said.

Something Schroeder wishes the county would do.

“I can’t tell people what to do but if our leaders do, then people are likely to follow, and I think we’re all better off wearing masks inside,” she said.