A face mask. File photo: Chas Hundley

OREGON - Beginning Wednesday, July 1, everyone in Oregon will be required to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces. 

Previously, a mandatory face covering rule had been issued for eight counties — including Washington County — as the state grappled with days of record-breaking numbers of positive COVID-19 test results.

“From the beginning of the reopening process, I have said that reopening comes with the risk of seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases beyond our health systems’ capacity to test, trace, and isolate them,” said Governor Kate Brown in a press release issued on Monday afternoon. “Over the last month, we have seen the disease spread at an alarming rate in both urban and rural counties. The upcoming July 4th holiday weekend is a critical point for Oregon in this pandemic, and we can all make a difference.”

The governor noted modeling from the Oregon Health Authority that shows that without action, cases could skyrocket — in a worst case scenario, 5,030 daily new cases by July 16 — and so will hospital admissions, which could overwhelm Oregon’s hospitals, within weeks, according to Brown and public health experts. 

[We rely on subscribers to keep the lights on at the Gales Creek Journal. Support us with a digital subscription: Click here to start]

Brown noted that face coverings should cover both the wearer’s mouth and nose to stop droplets from spreading from the wearer that could carry the novel coronavirus. Brown also asked Oregonians to follow the other tenets of reducing the spread of disease - practicing at least six feet of social distancing, regular hand-washing, and staying home when sick. 

Brown warned that another statewide shutdown could be in Oregon’s future if the state and Oregonian’s aren’t able to slow the spread of COVID-19.