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Gov. Brown urges Oregonians to follow statewide mask requirement

Brown said Oregon is at a crossroads in the COVID-19 crisis and Oregonians must follow the advice of doctors to avoid overwhelming hospitals with cases.

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown urged all Oregon residents to follow the state's mask requirement and warned Oregonians about the potential of a spike in COVID-19 cases overwhelming hospitals and forcing business closures during a news conference Wednesday morning. 

“At this pace we could reach 10,000 cases within a week,” Brown said. “Today, Oregon, you have a choice. What happens next is up to you.”

Oregon is approaching nearly 9,000 cases statewide, with over a quarter of those identified in the past two weeks. 

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state's epidemiologist, said Oregon is reporting 281 new cases Wednesday, and last week the state's percentage of positive tests rose to 4.3%.

“Our health care system cannot sustain this increase in growth without being overwhelmed,” said Sidelinger. “It is vital for every Oregonian to wear a mask or face covering.”

Earlier this week Brown mandated face masks in public for people throughout the state, starting Wednesday, to slow the spread of the disease. 

"As we approach the Fourth of July, we have chance to protect ourselves and each other," said Brown. “I’m calling upon our businesses to step up in ensuring that the public and their employees are protected.”

She noted the circumstances in Texas, Arizona and Florida, where skyrocketing cases have forced businesses to close again.

“If we cannot slow the spread of the virus we will need to take more drastic steps,” Brown said.

BACKGROUND: What power does the governor have during a state of emergency in Oregon?

On Tuesday, Gov. Brown extended Oregon's state of emergency through Sept. 4. The state of emergency declaration is the legal underpinning for the executive orders Brown has issued throughout the pandemic. 

Extending the state of emergency declaration allows those orders to stay in effect. 

INTERACTIVE: Oregon COVID-19 cases (update Tuesday afternoon)

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