SALEM, Ore. — House Republican Leader Christine Drazan sent a letter to Governor Kate Brown and Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen on Wednesday, urging them to rethink the latest OHA guidance on mask and distancing requirements.
The OHA guidance, released on Tuesday, requires businesses that wish to loosen mask and distancing requirements for fully vaccinated patrons only do so if they can check vaccination status — namely by requesting to see completed vaccination cards or similar proof.
Drazan called the rules "misguided," putting further burdens on businesses and their employees.
"To comply with OHA guidance, businesses will need to train employees to verify personal health records for different vaccines and check the dates those vaccines were administered," Drazan said. "Businesses will incur fines from [OSHA] if their employees get it wrong. Vaccine cards are designed as a personal health record, not a credential."
Drazan said that businesses' only other option is to require all customers to wear masks regardless of vaccination status, which she said contradicted the CDC guidance that prompted this update.
Speaking about the new guidance on Tuesday, state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger acknowledged that sticking with the previous OHA guidance was an option that many businesses might choose over checking vaccination status.
Like Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod, Drazan pointed to statements from the Biden administration that the federal government will not pursue vaccine verification.
"Oregon should not be at odds with the CDC and White House's recommendations," Drazan said. "This will create conflict between employees and customers, and between businesses and the communities they serve. Furthermore, front-line workers will take the brunt of confrontations. We should not be placing further burdens on workers."
Drazan closed her letter by saying that it is "time to return to normal."
As of Thursday, just under 63 percent of Oregon's adult population had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and local rates vary significantly by county. Governor Brown has said that most of Oregon's statewide restrictions will be lifted when the state reaches 70 percent of adults vaccinated with at least one dose.