Oregon Reimposes Outdoor Mask Mandate
Gov. Kate Brown said the contagiousness of the Delta variant of the coronavirus made the step necessary, and called masks a critical tool to keep people safe.
Oregon brings back an outdoor mask mandate for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
An I.C.U. nurse treats a Covid-19 patient at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland last week.Credit…Pool photo by Kristyna Wentz-Graff
By Dan Levin
Aug. 24, 2021, 4:44 p.m. ET
Oregon is restoring a statewide mask mandate, ordering both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks when gathering indoors or out.
Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said on Tuesday that masks — which will be required starting on Friday — were needed to fight rising coronavirus cases fueled by the Delta variant. She called face coverings a simple yet critical tool to help keep Oregonians safe.
“The Delta variant is much more contagious than previous variants we’ve seen, and it has dramatically increased the amount of virus in our communities,” Ms. Brown said in a statement. “Masks have proven to be effective at bringing case counts down, and are a necessary measure right now, even in some outdoor settings, to help fight Covid and protect one another.”
Oregon is the first state to reintroduce an outdoor mask mandate for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people since the Delta-driven surge took hold in the early summer, and among a handful to reimpose an indoor mask requirement statewide.
In California, Los Angeles County announced earlier this month that it would require masks to be worn at large outdoor concerts and sporting events that attract more than 10,000 people.
Under Oregon’s new rule, masks will be required in most public outdoor settings, including large outdoor events, when physical distancing is not possible. The rule does not apply to fleeting encounters, like passing someone on a hiking trail.
Though masks will not be required for outdoor gatherings at private residences, Oregon health officials recommended face coverings in those settings when they include people from different households.
While more than half of Oregon residents are fully vaccinated, new cases have surged in the state to a daily average of 2,114 as of Tuesday, from 339 a month ago, according to a New York Times database. Hospitalizations have more than quadrupled in the past month, to an average of more than 940 patients.