As Cases Surge, Oregon Expands Face Covering Requirements

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, the Oregon Health Authority has expanded state requirements on face masks.

The authority now says face coverings should be worn at all public and private workplaces, including classrooms, offices, meeting rooms and workspaces regardless of the social distancing situation. The only exception is when someone is on their own in an office or private workspace, the authority said. Face covering should also be worn at outdoor businesses and events, including markets and street fairs. The state added private and public universities to the list of places where people should don a mask or face covering.

Though the state requirements have long listed masks, face coverings and face shields as suitable protection, the authority said Monday that face shields should be avoided. They're not good protection against droplets that can cause infection. The authority acknowledged that sometimes they can't be avoided. Deaf people who read lips, for example, need to see another person's mouth to understand them.

The requirements apply to everyone 5 years of age and older. People with a disability or medical condition may request accommodation from a business, public space or workspace if they cannot wear one.

The new requirements come amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, with Oregon hitting a peak or perhaps a fall wave. The state announced eight new deaths on Monday, bringing the state total to 627 people, and 266 new cases. Another sign that the virus is increasing its spread: The rate of postitive tests increased to 6.5% on Sunday, the highest its been since mid-March.

You can reach Lynne Terry at [email protected] or on Twitter @LynnePDX.

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