PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The Oregon Health Authority is urging people living in counties with low vaccination rates to either seek out the vaccine or take extra measures to protect their health, amid new concerns about the rapid spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
OHA Director Patrick Allen said unvaccinated people should be wearing face coverings and avoiding gatherings.
"What we're trying to do is make sure people understand the Delta variant is quite serious. It's playing out significantly in parts of the state that have low vaccination rates," said Allen.
According to OHA, the state has seen steep increases in daily cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations due to COVID-19. Allen predicted the Delta variant, which is now the dominant strain of coronavirus in Oregon, will spread rapidly through unvaccinated populations.
Businesses in Oregon have largely been loosening masking requirements for customers, but some have continued asking customers to use face coverings.
At Gluten Free Gem in northeast Portland, Retail Manger Justin Condon said concerns about the Delta variant and the fact that some staff members are immune compromised led the bakery to continue to ask customers to mask up.
"We got a little bit of pushback at the beginning just because folks were just ready to take their masks off and live free, but once we put up some educational signage and were more informative with our customers, especially on social media, a lot of people came out in support," said Condon.
Allen said any decision about requiring masks now lies with local authorities, since the Governor lifted the statewide restrictions at the end of June.