Oregon Urges Return to Mask Wearing as Hospitals Feel Strain

Associated Press

July 21, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon health officials are urging people in 21 counties with high COVID-19 cases — including the three Portland-area counties — to return to mask wearing because the hospital system is again under extreme strain.

While COVID-19 hospitalizations are lower than past surges, staff shortages, patients who delayed care and elevated COVID-19 infections have substantially reduced hospital systems' capacity to care for patients, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Oregon Health Authority epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger on Wednesday asked Oregonians to wear masks in indoor public spaces, particularly those in counties with high levels of spread, those at high risk of severe disease or those living with people who are at high risk.

Using some of the strongest language during this surge, Sidelinger also suggested people reconsider summer plans to protect themselves and others during what he called "this extremely challenging time."

He said Central Oregon hospitals have been particularly hard-hit but that no part of the state has been spared.

Everyone in those counties should be wearing a mask when in an indoor public space, Sidelinger said. Masks are still required in health care settings in Oregon.

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