Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced on Tuesday that she will reimpose a statewide mandate for masks to be worn in all indoor public settings to address a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations driven by the delta variant.
Brown did not specify when the mandate would go into effect but said she would announce the details at a press conference on Aug. 11.
“Oregon is facing a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations—consisting overwhelmingly of unvaccinated individuals—that is quickly exceeding the darkest days of our winter surge,” Brown said in a statement. “When our hospitals are full, there will be no room for additional patients needing care—whether for COVID-19, a heart attack or stroke, a car collision, or a variety of other emergency situations.”
Brown made the announcement on the day Oregon logged a record-high 635 COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to the Oregon Health Authority. The number of patients in intensive care and on ventilators is likewise at a record high for the state. Hospitalizations with COVID-19 peaked last November.
Brown also said that all state executive branch employees will be required to be vaccinated either by Oct. 18 or six weeks after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants full approval for a vaccine, whichever is later.
“I am taking action to help ensure State of Oregon workplaces are safe for employees and customers alike, and I am strongly encouraging all public and private employers to follow suit by requiring vaccination for their employees,” Brown said.
Nine states currently have indoor mask mandates in place, according to a tally maintained by the AARP.
Brown lifted Oregon’s mask mandate on June 30 when infections were down and nearly 70 percent of the state’s population has received a least one dose of the vaccine.
She resisted imposing a statewide mandate when infections and hospitalizations began to climb again in mid-July. A day prior to announcing the statewide mask mandate, Brown called on counties to take matters in their own hands and praised Multnomah County for imposing a mask mandate.