Perhaps Florida should brace for a new round of interstate refugees – this time, from Oregon.
The Oregon Health Authority, during a meeting on Thursday, discussed making its existing statewide mask mandate permanent, according to The Blaze.
Oregon is one of six states – also including Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, and Washington – that require most people to mask up for indoor activities, regardless of vaccination status.
At the meeting, the Health Authority’s Rules Advisory Committee discussed how to extend the requirement into the future without end. The current regulation is good for only six months as a temporary measure. It will expire in February.
The group’s top medical adviser tried to spin the outcome.
“Permanent means indefinite. It doesn’t necessarily mean permanent,” Dr. Paul Cieslak told the local media. “We can repeal it as well, but we are only allowed to have a temporary rule for 180 days, and anything that goes beyond 180 days, we cannot extend it.”
Oregon’s first mask mandate, imposed in May 2020, lasted for 13 months.
The proposed new rule is expected to be released within a couple of weeks. A public hearing on it will be held later.
Despite Dr. Cieslak’s denials, Oregonians should be prepared for the long haul.
Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has refused to say when masks could come off.
In an interview with local media two weeks ago, Brown was asked precisely that question. Her answer should not lead her constituents to think they can put away their face coverings anytime soon.
“What’s most important to me throughout this pandemic that Oregonians stay alive and be healthy and safe, that we keep our kids in school with as minimal disruption as possible, and that our businesses are able to stay open and continue to thrive, so that is where we are focused,” Brown told KATU. “We’ll continue to follow the science and the data to keep Oregonians safe, to keep our schools open and our businesses thriving,” the governor said.
KATU noted that was the same answer they got in October when they asked Brown about the future of masking under the current temporary rule.
“The governor’s goal during the Delta surge continues to be to save lives, protect hospital capacity and keep Oregon businesses, schools, and communities open. Every time Oregonians mask up, they help us work toward that goal,” Brown’s office said in a statement.
“Masks are a simple and effective tool to slow the spread of COVID-19. While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have continued to drop in recent weeks, far too many Oregonians are continuing to be hospitalized and die from COVID-19. The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon OSHA will continue to monitor Oregon’s COVID-19 metrics in assessing Oregon’s mask requirements in the coming weeks and months.”
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