As Douglas County announced three new COVID-19 cases Monday, Gov. Kate Brown announced that Oregonians throughout the state will be required to wear face masks while in indoor public spaces beginning Wednesday.
As new cases mount in the state, Brown announced Monday she is expanding a face mask requirement that has been in effect for eight counties since last Wednesday.
The new requirements are scheduled to go into effect Wednesday. Residents of all counties in the state will be required to wear facial protection at grocery stores, shopping centers, and restaurants and bars while not eating or drinking.
“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,” Brown said in a press release from her office Monday. “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.”
Brown said modeling from the Oregon Health Authority shows if people in the state don’t take further action to reduce the spread of the disease, hospitals could be overwhelmed by new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations within weeks.
Brown said the new statewide face mask mandate, along with existing COVID-19 guidelines, are aimed to avoid a worst-case scenario.
“I do not want to have to close down businesses again like other states are now doing. If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face covering when out in public,” Brown said.
Local businesses and residents are already preparing for the new regulations set to begin Wednesday.
Linda Hellenthal learned about the face mask requirement on her way to JOANN Fabrics and Crafts in Roseburg. She decided to wear a mask inside the store Monday — with some reservations.
“I don’t want to impair anyone else, I’ll go along with it,” Hellenthal said. “But I think it’s too much government, and kind of a pain in the neck, especially in July.”
Sam Gross, owner of Loggers Tap House, isn’t worried about a significant effect on his business.
“I don’t see the governor’s new mask requirements affecting my business or the restaurant industry in general,” Gross said.
“I haven’t seen the details yet, but I’m sure that my customers will be allowed to remove their masks to eat, drink and be merry.”
Don Leber, vice president of advertising and marketing for Bi-Mart, said their stores are in good shape to comply with the orders.
“We’ve done it in other stores, we started last week in the Oregon stores, we’re doing it in all of our Washington stores, so it’s become kind of the situation over the last week to 10 days and it’s gotten more serious as the number of COVID-19 cases has gone up,” Leber said.
Douglas County Public Health Officer Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer said getting COVID-19 under control will depend on how well people follow existing guidelines.
“I think it will last until we get this back under control. We had it under control for a while and when we opened up, things are now a bit out of control, so we really have to get it back under control,” he said.
The total number of confirmed positive cases in Douglas County is now 40, with one person still hospitalized.
Dannenhoffer, said the latest cases appear to have come from other recent cases.
“The cases are related to previous clusters that we were looking at, all from out of state places,” Dannenhoffer said. “Except for the one fellow that’s been in the hospital for a long time, all of the other cases are either asymptomatic or mild.”