The states of Texas and Florida are currently making headlines due to efforts by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Gov. Ron DeSantis to ban mask mandates, even as COVID-19 case numbers skyrocket and local school districts revolt. But on Aug. 11, Oregon became the third state to impose statewide indoor mask mandates, following a press conference with Gov. Kate Brown.
The state joins Louisiana and Hawaii to enforce indoor masking for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Brown enacted the measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant, which is currently surging in Oregon. Additionally, she imposed a requirement that Oregon state executive branch employees will be required to be fully vaccinated on or before Oct. 18—or six weeks after a COVID-19 vaccine receives full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.
“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 wrote in a statement prior to the official announcement. “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.”
“There are two keys to saving lives. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family against severe illness, hospitalization, and death,” Brown continued. “And, by wearing masks, all of us––vaccinated and unvaccinated––can help ensure that a hospital bed staffed by health professionals is available for our loved ones in their time of need.”
Coinciding with Brown’s announcement, Oregon set new records with 2,329 daily cases and 635 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including a record of 164 people in intensive care.
The state mask mandates will kick into effect on Aug. 13.
As the delta variant continues to ravage the country, it seems likely that more states will follow suit. In July, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak mandated that face coverings be worn indoors in public settings in counties with “substantial or high transmission.”