‘We’re here to sound the alarm’: New indoor gathering, mask rules in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced new coronavirus restrictions Monday afternoon, as health officials warn of a spike in cases.

In a press conference Monday, the governor said the state saw more cases of COVID-19 last week than the entire month of May. She said if we don’t act now, the virus could spiral out of control. “The rate of COVID-19 transmission is accelerating,” Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said, “new cases are projected to triple in the next six weeks,” Allen said the projected spike could overwhelm our healthcare system and limit resources for the sick.

To slow the spread, Gov. Brown announced two new mandates. Starting Wednesday, July 15, indoor gatherings of more than 10 people won’t be allowed. “Potlucks, dinner parties, birthday parties and book clubs that take place indoors, can not exceed more than 10 people,” said Gov. Brown.

The ban does not apply to businesses, that includes restaurants and churches for the time being. “As of right now, these businesses that are implementing and enforcing our safety rules, face coverings, physical distancing and sanitation do not appear to be the sources of significant transmission,” said the governor.

Oregon will also expand the state’s face covering requirements. Masks will be required outdoors if people can’t physically distance from people they don’t live with. Allen said indoor, social gatherings are fueling much of the spread.

“You’re with family and friends, and that feels inherently safe,” said Allen, “and so people think less about taking the precautions that they need to protect themselves, and their friends and family from COVID-19.”

Both the governor and health officials urged all Oregonians to wear masks, keep their distance and wash their hands often.

“I hope I don’t have to go the route of Texas and California and close bars and restaurants,” Gov. Brown said, “but nothing, nothing is off the table.”

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