PORTLAND, Ore. — With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on the rise, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is recommending that every Oregonian, vaccinated or not, once again start wearing a mask in indoor public settings.
State health officials made the announcement on Tuesday as the highly contagious delta COVID-19 variant surged. OHA estimates that the delta variant makes up about 80% of new cases in Oregon.
On Tuesday, Oregon reported 1,032 new cases, the highest daily total since April. The state also reported 52 new hospitalizations due to COVID-19 within a 24-hour span. There are now 259 COVID patients hospitalized statewide.
“Today’s reported sharp rise in cases and hospitalizations in Oregon are sobering reminders that the pandemic is not over, especially for Oregonians who remain unvaccinated,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state epidemiologist and state health officer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who are vaccinated with the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine are protected from coronavirus and its variants, including the delta variant.
OHA’s recommendation aligns with new guidance from the CDC issued Tuesday that everyone, including fully vaccinated people, wear a mask in public indoor settings.
The recommendation applies statewide, as cases have increased across the state in recent weeks due to the delta variant. Health officials have said the delta variant is roughly twice as contagious as earlier strains of the virus and may cause more severe illness.
So-called breakthrough infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people. When earlier strains of the virus predominated, infected vaccinated people were found to have low levels of virus and were deemed unlikely to spread the virus much, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
On Monday, Multnomah County recommended that everyone 5 and older resume wearing masks in all indoor public settings, even if they'd been vaccinated. Washington, Clackamas and Clark counties also encouraged people to resume masking as well.
Seattle-King County and multiple counties in the San Francisco Bay Area have issued similar advisories, as well as the cities of Savannah, Ga., Long Beach, Calif., and Philadelphia. Los Angeles County reinstated its mask mandate due to rising cases.