ONTARIO — “Find a way to get a COVID vaccine, before it finds you.”
This is the advice Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen gave to people who have not been vaccinated during a joint news conference with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state epidemiologist, on Wednesday.
Brown used the news conference to announce she is mandating that people, vaccinated or not, wear face coverings at indoor public places beginning Friday.
The mandate, which is statewide, is being put in place to try and stop the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19. According to OHA data there were 10 cases of COVID reported for Malheur County on Aug. 4. On Aug, 10 it more than tripled to 31.
As of Wednesday, more than 2,300 cases of COVID have been reported statewide, the highest number in Oregon since the virus was first discovered in the state, Brown said.
“Hospitalizations are at a record high,” she said with hospitals across the state being 90% filled.
“When hospitals run out of beds, we are all at risk,” Brown said.
Brown said she had hoped that the local elected officials would make decisions based on information from local health-care providers and public health officials. What was clear after meeting with county commissions, she said, was that for the most part, local elected officials were not willing to make the hard decisions.
The trio touted vaccines are the best way to protect oneself from the virus or getting seriously ill with it.
“The latest science is clear that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals are able to spread the Delta variant,” Brown said, and wearing of the masks protects the wearer and people around them.
In a statement, released Wednesday evening, Abby Lee,Treasure Valley Community College spokeswoman, said that TVCC will be following the governor’s guidelines.
While summer classes end Thursday, many students continue to live in the Residence Hall, and athletes are already on campus for practice.
“Effective Friday all TVCC employees, students and guests, regardless of vaccination statues, will be required to wear face coverings in all indoor locations, at all college locations.” Lee said.
However, college employees will not need to wear a covering when working in a closed office, but will wear a face covering if visible to the public.
If conditions improve, or otherwise change, the requirements will be revisited, Lee said, adding that fall term begins on Sept. 27.
City Manager Adam Brown confirmed Thursday that Ontario would also be reinstating requirements to wear masks inside City Hall as of Friday.