Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that, effective Wednesday, July 15, Oregonians are required to wear face masks outside if they are unable to keep a six-foot distance from others. Additionally, indoor social gatherings are now limited to 10 or fewer.
“The COVID-19 disease is spreading rapidly across the entire state of Oregon and each and every one of us needs to take action,” Brown said at a press briefing Monday. Oregon reported more cases in the last week than in the entire month of May, she said.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, 741 cases were reported over the weekend, bringing the total to 12,170.
According to OHA Director Pat Allen, “The rate of COVID-19 transmission is accelerating. New cases are projected to triple in the next 6 weeks.”
“Emerging evidence continues to show masks curbed community spread,” Allen said.
Dr. Dean Sidelinger, Oregon’s state health officer, voiced concern over models showing “exponential growth” of COVID-19 cases. “Reduction by 10 percentage points still puts us in the path where we see increased growth,” Sidelinger said.
“Today, we are sounding the alarm because we are at risk of allowing the virus to spiral out of control,” Brown said. “This is what we saw in New York this spring and it’s what we’re seeing today in Texas, Florida and Arizona.”
The biggest sources of transmission come from workplaces, Brown said, such as in the agricultural and food processing industries in rural Oregon, as well as assisted living facilities, nursing homes and prisons.
Additionally, social get-togethers like fraternity and house parties have been major spreaders of the virus. The new statewide rules put in place will ban indoor gatherings of 10 or more people, including but not limited to potlucks, dinner parties and birthday parties.
Brown acknowledged the difficulty in enforcing these rules and instead focused on pushing Oregonians to take personal responsibility for their actions and decisions. “I’m not going to set up the party police,” Brown said. However, if people don’t comply, “I will be forced to take more restrictive measures. No one wants that,” she said.
“It all depends on you. Your choices determine our future,” Brown said.