The statue of former Governor Tom McCall in Salem’s Riverfront Park had a mask added during the early months of the Covid pandemic (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)
All Oregonians, including those fully vaccinated against Covid, should wear masks while indoors in public, the Oregon Health Authority said Tuesday.
The reversal comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday morning made a similar recommendation for areas in the U.S. with "substantial or high transmission" of Covid.
Oregon has recorded several weeks of climbing Covid diagnoses across the state which health authorities said are mostly among unvaccinated people. Health authorities said the spread of the more contagious Delta variant drove their decision.
On Tuesday, OHA recorded 1,032 Oregonians newly diagnosed with Covid, including 112 in Marion and 24 in Polk counties.
Statewide, 259 Oregonians are hospitalized with Covid, 77 of them in intensive care units.
OHA reports monthly the number of people diagnosed with Covid who have been vaccinated against the virus, but does not break down daily numbers or hospitalizations by vaccination status.
“Today’s reported sharp rise in cases and hospitalizations in Oregon are sobering reminders that the pandemic is not over, especially for Oregonians who remain unvaccinated,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state epidemiologist and state health officer, in a prepared statement.
“The highly contagious Delta variant has increased tenfold in the past two weeks in Oregon, and it is now estimated to be associated with 80% of the new cases in Oregon. The use of face masks provides significant protection for individuals who are unvaccinated as well as an additional level protection from a small but known risk of infection by the virus for persons who have already been vaccinated," Sidelinger said.
On May 18, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Oregonians fully vaccinated against Covid no longer needed to wear face masks indoors. On July 1, the state dropped nearly all Covid restrictions, allowing everyone to go maskless in public.