Oregon enacts strict mask mandates amid 990% jump in COVID-19 hospitalizations

COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased 990 percent in Oregon since July 9, spurring the state to enact the strictest public health measures seen during this surge.

Oregon is reporting the highest level of hospitalizations seen during the pandemic, as the virus rapidly spreads across rural communities with low vaccination rates. As of Aug. 24, the state's seven-day hospitalization average was 974. During last winter's surge, this figure peaked at 676 on Dec. 12, according to data tracked by The New York Times.

Hospitals in the state are nearing capacity, and health officials are urging unvaccinated people to avoid any nonessential activities. As of Aug. 27, 78.5 percent of the state's inpatient beds were in use, according to HHS data.

Effective Aug. 27, Oregon is requiring both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents to wear masks when in close proximity to others, even if they are outdoors. The mandate builds on a requirement to wear masks indoors that was implemented Aug. 11. Gov. Kate Brown told the Times more mandates may be required over the coming days to control the virus's spread. At present, indoor dining and large public gatherings are still permitted, and in-person learning is resuming at most public schools. 


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