In May, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced that Americans who are fully vaccinated do not have to wear masks or socially distance themselves in public spaces or gatherings. Following the announcement, the governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, announced that Oregon would follow the CDC’s guidance and would no longer require Oregonians to wear masks.
The CDC’s announcement does introduce some caveats, however. For example, masks will still be required in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and are recommended on public transit. A summary on the updated COVID rules on the CDC’s website called “Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People” said, “fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
The CDC has made these changes as COVID cases continue to decrease across the United States as more and more Americans get their COVID vaccine. In the same “Interim Public Health Recommendations,” “Risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection is minimal for fully vaccinated people.”
Said “Our World in Data,” as of June 2, 50.45% of all Americans have received at least one dose of one of the three approved COVID vaccines and 41.5% of Americans are fully vaccinated.
The CDC also said Oregon’s vaccinations stand at 2,247,597 people with at least one vaccine and 1,863,888 people fully vaccinated.
These numbers likely play a part in why governor Kate Brown decided to re-open the state.
Brown’s announcement came soon after the CDC said Americans no longer need to socially distance themselves. As well, Brown and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA)’s guidelines follow those of CDC recommendations. The OHA will still require masks in correctional facilities, healthcare settings, homeless shelters, and public transportations.
As well, Oregon will still require masks in schools. A statement put out by the OHA entitled “Statewide Reopening Guidance — Masks, Face Coverings, Face Shields” said that masks will be required in K-12 schools and “Fully vaccinated individuals must comply with Ready School, Safe Learners (RSSL) guidance face-covering requirements.”
In a video statement released on May 13, Brown said, “starting today Oregon will be following this guidance which only applies to fully vaccinated individuals. That means Oregonians no longer need to wear masks or social distance in most public spaces.”
One part of “most public spaces” is stores and businesses. Both the CDC and the OHA said that independent businesses will still be able to set their own mask and distancing guidelines. This means that stores could still require masks or allow only fully vaccinated individuals to go mask-free on proof of vaccination.
as of June 2, 50.45% of all Americans have received at least one dose of one of the three approved COVID vaccines and 41.5% of Americans are fully vaccinated- numbers from Our World in Data
An article by OPB called “Oregon officials release new rules for masks, approve five counties for lowered restrictions” outlines the responsibility of businesses. Said OPB, “All businesses, places of employment, and faith institutions are required to enforce the state’s mask mandate unless they establish a new policy of checking for proof of vaccination status for every individual who enters.”
However, this could present some challenges as, Jason Brandt- the president and CEO of the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association- states in the OPB article. Brant said that businesses could have a difficult time enforcing state or personal mask mandates. Said Brandt, “We’re talking about businesses being in a more challenging environment where they have to determine how much they want to act as the vaccination police or not.”
Although masks will still be required in some settings in both Oregon and America, the new guidance by the CDC has brought several changes across the country as states begin to re-open. It is all done to encourage Americans to get vaccinated and reach “community immunity,” as well as reach President Biden’s goal of having 70% off Americans with one dose of the vaccine by July.
As Kate Brown said, “Oregonians now have a choice of how to protect themselves either get vaccinated or continue wearing a mask. The new CDC guidance makes clear the vaccines are the best and everyone around you.”