Multnomah County returns to mask requirements

PORTLAND, Ore. – Starting later this week, everyone in Multnomah County will be required to wear a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

The executive order from Chair Deborah Kafoury comes as the county sees a surge in COVID-19 cases, both in the metro area and outlying communities.

“Millions of Americans have been safely vaccinated, and are protected against becoming seriously ill or dying even from the Delta variant,’’ said Chair Kafoury. “But children under 12, immune-suppressed people and others enjoy no such freedom from fear. We have two important tools against this virus: vaccines and masks. And we’re going to use the masks until more people are vaccinated.’’

Violators could face a fine of up to $1,000.

The rule goes into effect on Friday, August 13.

Governor Kate Brown issued the following statement about the requirement:

“From the beginning of this pandemic, city and county leaders have asked me for local control and the ability to make local public health decisions when it comes to COVID-19. I’d like to thank Chair Kafoury and Multnomah County leaders for taking bold action to slow the spread of the Delta variant in our communities. Wearing a mask is a simple way to protect your friends and family. Indoor mask requirements will help us stop the spread of COVID-19 while keeping Oregon open for business.

“Last week, I spoke with county leaders statewide, and several elected officials from the areas of our state seeing the largest spikes in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations asked me not to take statewide action, and again asked for local control.

“I am calling on local leaders to take action now to institute mask requirements. At this point in the pandemic, local leaders are in a unique position to help deliver the message to members of their communities about effective safety measures like vaccination and masks. But the fact remains, we have a finite number of staffed hospital beds in Oregon. If local leaders continue not to act and their regional hospitals exceed their capacity, it will impact hospitals all across the state. We will continue to explore statewide health measures necessary to stop the Delta variant from stretching Oregon hospitals beyond their full capacity.”

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