PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Gov. Kate Brown on Monday announced that she will expand Oregon’s face covering mandate statewide ahead of the holiday weekend.
All Oregonians beginning Wednesday will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. Previously, it was only mandated in some of the state's most populous counties, including Clackamas, Hood River, Lincoln, Polk, Marion, Multnomah and Washington 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,” Gov. Kate Brown in her statement on Monday. “Over the last month, we have seen the disease spread at an alarming rate in both urban and rural counties. The upcoming July 4th holiday weekend is a critical point for Oregon in this pandemic, and we can all make a difference.”
Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth play a critical role in reducing the spread of the disease because droplets from people's breath can carry the virus to others without people realizing it, Brown said.
She said she did not want to close businesses again as has happened in other states that are seeing a spike in cases. She said Oregon Occupational Safety and Health will take the lead in enforcing face covering requirements for all covered Oregon businesses.
She also urged people to keep July 4 celebrations small and local, saying the state saw a lot of new cases following Memorial Day.
The state previously has said that it is working with counties to make face masks available for free as needed.
FOX 12 on Monday spoke to a winery in Newberg who said they don't see the rule being much of an issue.
Michelle Kaufmann with Chehalem Winery says only several tables fit into their tasting room once social distancing is accounted for. The tasting room says it made some other big changes when it opened back up in May.
"One of the first things we did was we required masks for employees when they were on site and we encouraged guests that when they were coming in or if they are here and they get up to go to the restroom or go outside that they wear one as well," Kaufmann said.
Now, it's no longer a suggestion. Kaufmann says they would rather put up with the frustrations of masks now than have to close back down in the near future.
I mean, masks, yes, they’re frustrating, but they’re really here for everyone’s safety," Kaufmann said. "And once guests come and sit down and they enjoy they’re flight, they are encouraged to take them of ... we want to move forward, we want to get back to that new sense of reality. People want to get out, so how do we do that in a safe and responsible way, not only for ourself, but for our fellow community members."
More than 200 people in Oregon have died and nearly 8,500 people in the state have tested positive for the disease, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Those numbers include two additional deaths and 146 cases reported by the authority on Monday.
Oregon Hospitals on Monday afternoon released a statement in support of Brown's decision:
“The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems stands in support of Governor Kate Brown’s statewide public face covering requirement," the statement said, in part. "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. Further, if we are to co-exist alongside the disease, wide adoption of public face coverings is an essential factor in keeping our businesses and public spaces open. OAHHS urges all Oregonians to wear a face covering in public, and to help reinforce this critical message by talking to your friends and family about the importance of wearing a face covering in public.”
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