By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Oregon moves up date to drop mask mandate

The Oregon Health Authority announced on Thursday that it will drop the state mask mandate for most public indoor locations on March 19, moving up the date previously announced. Also on Thursday, Governor Kate Brown announced that she will drop the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration on April 1.

However, the OHA said, it “strongly recommends” that people continue to mask if they are at high risk from COVID-19 or who live with someone who is, and that school districts continue to require masks.

Higher risk categories include people who are unvaccinated, immunocompromised, have underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of complications, or are 65 or older.

The OHA said officials also “continue to strongly recommend universal masking in K-12 settings where children are required to attend. Those settings bring together vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, as well as individuals who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness.”

Masks in schools will not be required by the state, however. Schools will be on spring break for a week after the mask mandate is dropped.

The announcements come as new cases have dropped about 80% across Oregon, although the state continues to report around 1,000 new cases daily. On Wednesday, the OHA reported, 1,160 new cases and 35 deaths.

Yamhill County reported just 12 new cases on Thursday, down from 30 on Wednesday, and an average of 33.7 per day from Friday through Monday. That was the lowest daily increase the county has seen since November 16. The county has not seen regular daily increases below 20 since last July.

Yamhill County reported three deaths this week, but details on only one have been released so far by the OHA: A 74-year-old woman who tested positive Feb. 13 died Feb. 20 at her residence.

Oregon’s announcement comes as the World Health Organization and many scientists are warning that it is too soon to drop the measures that help to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

The United States is reporting about 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 and 2,000 deaths per day, according to the CDC’s data tracker.

A new variant is spreading worldwide, that researchers are racing to learn more about: BA.2, currently labeled as an subvariant of Omicron. The World Health Organization has said it should be listed as a variant of concern. It has been spreading in 80 countries, and all but three states: Iowa, Maine and Oklahoma. Ten cases have been identified so far in Oregon.

BA.2 is estimated to be about 30% more transmissible than Omicron. The CDC estimates that it currently comprises about 3.9% of all infections nationwide, and appears to be spreading rapidly.



This isn't about science as much as it is stealing the thunder from the truckers convoy.


"See! It worked!! Our protest with all 10 of you on this corner made Gov. Brown change her mind and drop the indoor masking rule in 3 weeks! Now, let's take a selfie with all you little ones for my FB page."

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