PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - The Oregon Health Authority announced Tuesday that it is lifting its outdoor mask requirement in the state.

The outdoor mask mandate went into effect in August during a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations brought on by the Delta variant. The decision to lift the outdoor mask mandate takes effect immediately.

The decision reflects on the overall progress seen on the COVID-19 front in Oregon, according to OHA.

"A testament to the perseverance of all Oregonians in adopting the public health interventions we know are effective in containing the spread of this disease, we're taking this action within our legal authority and after close consultation with Governor Kate Brown and her advisers," said OHA Director Pat Allen.

OHA says mask wearing for people who are unvaccinated, elderly, immunocompromised, or at higher risk of contracting the virus is still strongly recommended.

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"This new mask guidance shouldn't keep people who want to continue wearing masks in all settings. Face coverings provide significant protection for people who aren't vaccinated and additional protection against the small risk of infection that exists for vaccinated people," said Allen.

The state has seen a steady decline in daily cases and hospitalizations over the past six weeks. Patients with COVID-19 in hospitals has declined, falling from a peak of 1,178 on Sept. 1 to 404 as of Tuesday, according to OHA.

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While the COVID-19 landscape has improved, OHA says the state is not at the point where it can consider relaxing the guidance on wearing masks in indoor public settings.

"We continue to see a concerning pattern of COVID-19 spread throughout the state, with the heaviest concentrations found in counties with lagging vaccination rates," Allen said.

Tuesday's announcement comes just one day after Oregon surpassed 5,000 deaths related to COVID-19.

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