PORTLAND, Ore. — Responding to new CDC guidance released on Tuesday morning, the Oregon Health Authority issued a recommendation later in the afternoon that Oregonians wear masks indoors to curb the Delta variant of COVID-19.
OHA called for universal mask use in indoor public settings throughout the state, saying the change was prompted both by the CDC guidance and the recent spike in cases and hospitalizations.
“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.
“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.”
The CDC has said that people who are vaccinated with currently available vaccines are protected from the virus and other circulating variants, including the Delta variant that now comprises the majority of Oregon's new cases.
Regardless, the CDC's new guidance stipulates that everyone, including the fully vaccinated, should wear a mask in public indoor settings when spread of the virus is prevalent, and the OHA seemed determined determined to follow suit as cases quickly mount again across the state.
"OHA’s recommendation applies statewide, and not just areas with higher infections and high transmission, as cases have increased across the state in recent weeks due to the Delta variant," the agency said. "OHA is continuing to call on local community and public health leaders, and businesses, to encourage vaccination and masking to prevent new outbreaks in areas of substantial and high transmission."
The Delta variant is spreading across the country. Take it from an expert like Dr. Sidelinger—vaccinated or unvaccinated, let's mask up to protect our friends, family members, and neighbors from COVID-19. We can stop the spread the same way we have before, together. https://t.co/WkS6MpnwIR
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) July 27, 2021