Starting Friday, people must don face coverings outdoors where physical distancing is not possible.
“Masks have proven to be effective at reducing transmission and are a necessary measure right now, even in some outdoor settings, to help us fight COVID and protect one another,” Brown said in a video statement.
“In addition, the Oregon Health Authority strongly recommends masking in outdoor gatherings at private residences where people from different households do not maintain physical distance,” she added.
Brown stressed that the new rule doesn’t mean people have to always wear a mask outdoors.
“You do not need to mask up for a fleeting pass by on a hiking trail or your morning walk with your dog,” she said. “It does mean that you have to take personal responsibility and use common sense in outdoor spaces.”
The state already had an indoor mask mandate.
Health officials say part of the reasoning for the new outdoor mask mandate is because they are seeing instances where cases are clustering around outdoor events, such as music festivals.
“The harsh reality is that this Delta variant is much more contagious than previous variants we’ve seen,” Brown said. “It has dramatically increased the amount of virus in our communities.”
The Democratic governor said that 1,000 patients in Oregon are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
She added that vaccination “continues to be the best way” to protect oneself from the Delta variant and help healthcare workers who are “working around the clock” to treat those taken ill with COVID-19. Brown said the majority of the patients in intensive care unit beds are unvaccinated people.
According to state data, 283 of the COVID-19 patients are in ICU beds. As of Aug. 24, there are 45 ICU beds available in the state. Currently more than 90 percent of the state’s ICU and hospital beds are full.
According to a report by Performance Magazine published by the KPI Institute, data indicates that 85-90 percent is the ideal range for hospital bed occupancy rate. A rate higher than 90 percent “may induce the danger of overcrowding, indicating that hospitals may have to turn away patients and postpone the provision of needed, possibly crucial, healthcare,” per the report.
This article has been updated with additional information on hospital bed occupancy rates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.