Face masks must be worn outdoors when social distancing is not possible, and private gatherings must be limited to no more than 10 people, Gov. Kate Brown announced Monday.
The new rules to fight the COVID-19 pandemic go into effect July 15, expanding the directive last week that face masks be worn at indoor public places.
In keeping with her long-standing policy, Brown said she was relying on public cooperation rather than any enforcement of the additional rules.
“I am not going to set up the party police,” Brown said.
State health officials have said the growth of virus cases in Oregon in recent weeks has been driven by clusters of social gatherings, often involving people who are under 40 years of age.
Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state’s top epidemiologist, said at the same press briefing that the state was on pace to triple the number of new daily COVID-19 cases within the next six weeks. That would mean more than 1,000 cases per day by the Labor Day weekend at the beginning of September. Brown’s current emergency order runs out Sept. 4.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 280 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the state total to 12,438. Three more deaths were reported — one each in Umatilla, Marion and Clackamas counties — bringing the state total to 237 dead from the virus.
Nationwide, about 3,353,500 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 135,100 have died as of Monday, according to a New York Times database. The newspaper said the worldwide count as of Monday was 12.9 million cases and more than 569,000 deaths.
Brown said she believed most Oregonians were following the face covering, social distancing and enhanced hygiene efforts that health officials advocate. She called those who willingly ignore the efforts “outliers.”
“We are at risk of COVID-19 getting out of control in Oregon,” Brown said. “Each of us needs to take immediate action to slow the spread of this disease.”
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will continue to inspect businesses and can issue citations. Brown said she did not know how many citations resulted from enforcement efforts over the July 4 weekend, when 800 were inspected for compliance.
Oregon’s actions came as neighboring California stepped up its response to a major spike in COVID-19 cases by reversing many “reopening” measures. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a renewed ban on indoor dining, closed bars and entertainment venues such as museums and zoos. He also ordered 30 counties — including Los Angeles — to close malls, gyms, hair and nail salons and many other businesses. The state has had over 325,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and over 7,000 deaths since the pandemic hit the state at the beginning of the year.
“COVID-19 is not going away any time soon until there is a vaccine or effective therapy,” Newsom said at a press briefing in Sacramento.
The Oregon Health Authority reported two workplace outbreaks involving 20 or more cases. An outbreak of 102 cases has been reported at Snake River Correctional Institution in Malheur County. Shearer’s Foods in Umatilla County reported 20 cases.