New Details posted at 4 p.m. Aug. 11
The Oregon Health Authority reported 80 new cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County late Wednesday afternoon and one new death.
Statewide, the OHA said there were seven other new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,920. Overall, Oregon's counties reported 1,991 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 234,393.
The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 665, which is 30 more than yesterday. There are 172 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is eight more than yesterday.
Previous coverage posted at 12:30 p.m. Aug. 11
Oregon will resume its indoor mask mandate effective Friday, Aug. 13.
Gov. Kate Brown said the effort to require the face coverings at all public indoor settings is needed to slow the rapidly spreading COVID-19 Delta virus in the state.
Brown opened a Wednesday morning press conference by saying the latest COVID-19 numbers are "shocking."
"Yesterday we had over 2,300 cases of COVID, the highest number since the virus first landed in Oregon," Brown said. "Hospitalizations are also up at a record high. Across the state our ICU beds are about 90% filled. Some of our hospital regions have fewer than five ICU beds available to start the day."
Brown said the numbers are the result of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
"These numbers are despite the fact that nearly 73% of Oregon's adults are vaccinated," she said. "The harsh reality is that Delta is a different virus. It has changed everything."
Brown said the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Health Sciences University report that without new safety interventions, COVID-19 hospitalizations will completely overwhelm the doctors and nurses in the coming weeks.
"Without safety measures we could be as many as 500 hospital beds short of what we need to treat people by September," Brown said. "And that's patients coming into the hospitals for any reasons. When hospitals run out of beds, we are all at risk."
According to Brown, the pandemic has taught that quick, decisive action saves lives.
Brown said vaccines are the best way for individuals to protect themselves and their families from the deadly virus.
"It is clear that the situation requires immediate action to stop the Delta variant from traveling further," Brown said. "Masks are simple and they are effective. Masks are also our best bet in keeping our schools and our businesses open. Wearing a mask should give you confidence that you are not infecting others."
Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen told reporters that the Delta variant virus is spreading uncontrollably among people who are not vaccinate.
"It will get worse if we do not take immediate action," Allen said.
Allen said state agencies are now working with hospitals across the state in repositioning resources, such as respirators, and mobilizing nurses to ensure patient care.
"This is a disappointing reminder that we still have dark days ahead," Brown said. "Until more people get vaccinated, we are all still in danger."
When asked about reversing her position this week after saying the mask mandate should be up to local elected officials, Brown said, "It was really clear that local officials were not willing to make the tough decisions to preserve and ensure protection of our hospital beds."
Brown is also mandating that all state employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.
"I encourage all public employees to do the exact same thing," she said.
Brown said it will be up to local school superintendents to decide if teachers should be required to be vaccinated.
Concerning public protection at large outdoor events, such as University of Oregon Duck football games, Brown said that local officials have the authority to take action.
"I am asking Oregonians to mask up and get vaccinated so we can reduce the number of additional hospital beds that we might need," she said.
Mask Mandate Fact Sheet
Brown's office released the following Mask Mandate Fact Sheet.
The goal of indoor mask requirement is to limit the spread of the Delta variant as much as possible indoors, where COVID-19 spreads more easily. The requirement works in combination with efforts to encourage more Oregonians to become fully vaccinated.
●The emphasis of indoor mask requirement is on personal responsibility - we are asking Oregonians to make a commitment to protect those around you by wearing a mask. We are also asking Oregonians to be kind and considerate of others and to treat store employees and others with respect: they are asking you to wear a mask to save lives.
●Applies to adults and children older than 5. On public transit, also includes children older than 2. This aligns with Multnomah County mask requirements.
●Applies broadly to people in all indoor public spaces. (Masks are still strongly encouraged in crowded outdoor situations.)
●Common sense exemptions apply for activities that would be impractical or impossible wearing a mask, for example: eating and drinking; swimming and organized, competitive sports; performances involving singing or speaking in public.
- In these cases, OHA recommends strongly that participants be fully vaccinated if eligible.
- Similar to exemptions in recently-adopted mask requirements in Nevada, Louisiana, and Washington, DC.
●Oregon OSHA will have a role in enforcement for employers and employees, with an education-first approach: OSHA will work with employers who are making an effort to comply and won’t conduct inspections or issue fines immediately as businesses implement masking protocols, including the necessary signage.