Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Mandates Masks Outdoors After 'Terrifying Milestone'

Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) has announced a mandate that will require people to wear masks outdoors after the state experienced a "terrifying milestone."

Gov. Brown announced that masks would be required in most outdoor settings, regardless of vaccination status, following the admission of "1,000 COVID-19 patients" into hospitals across Oregon.

She added the Delta variant had been the source of many of the new infections and that it had swept through the state's unvaccinated population.

In a Twitter statement shared on Tuesday, Gov. Brown said: "Today we have 1,000 COVID-19 patients in our hospital, a terrifying milestone. Delta is ripping through communities around the state and across the country.

"Flooding hospitals and stretching thin our nurses and health care staff as they work to treat patients, hitting hard our communities with low vaccination rates. This is not a drill."

In a bid to combat the increase in COVID-19 patients being treated in Oregon's hospitals, Gov. Brown announced a new statewide mask mandate that would come into effect on Friday.

She continued: "I am announcing that effective Friday, August 27, masks will be required in all public outdoor settings where physical distancing is not possible, regardless of vaccination status."

Today we have 1,000 COVID-19 patients in our hospitals. I’m continuing to take actions to protect Oregonians and save lives.

Effective Friday 8/27, masks will be required in public outdoors settings where physical distancing is not possible, regardless of vaccination status. pic.twitter.com/0EU6bteTPU

— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) August 24, 2021

Gov. Brown did clarify masks would not be required if an individual is alone or with people from their households.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends unvaccinated people aged 2 or older to wear a mask indoors, it says "in general, you don't need to wear a mask in outdoor settings."

The CDC did, however, recommend that people wear masks outdoors in places with high COVID-19 cases and that they consider wearing them when in close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.

According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, there were 989 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday, August 23.

Its vaccine tracker also said 58.68 percent of the state population was fully vaccinated.

Explaining the threat posed by the Delta variant, State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger said on Tuesday: "It is much easier for people with the Delta variant, compared to people who were sick last year, to infect others around them.

"This is because they have one thousand times more virus in their nose, which means that those around them are more likely to get sick because this variant behaves so differently. We are starting to see instances where cases are clustering around events, like outdoor music festivals, that happen outdoors.

"Wearing masks in crowded settings—even outdoors—will help slow the spread of COVID-19."

Newsweek has contacted the Oregon Republican Party for comment.

Kate Brown
Oregon Governor Kate Brown speaks to the press about the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College on October 2, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon. Gov. Brown said a statewide mask mandate would be enforced from Friday, August 27. Scott Olson/Getty