WEDNESDAY, Aug. 11, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- A statewide indoor mask mandate and a vaccination requirement for state employees are expected to be announced Wednesday by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown as coronavirus case numbers grow due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.
That would make Oregon the third state after Louisiana and Hawaii to implement a mask mandate for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, the Washington Post reported.
New modeling predicts that, without new safety measures in place, COVID-19 hospitalizations will far exceed Oregon's health system capacity in the next several weeks, Brown said in a statement. Oregon could be up to 500 staffed hospital beds short of what will be needed to treat patients hospitalized for any reason by September.
""When our hospitals are full, there will be no room for additional patients needing care––whether for COVID-19, a heart attack or stroke, a car collision, or a variety of other emergency situations," Brown said. "If our hospitals run out of staffed beds, all Oregonians will be at risk."
"There are two keys to saving lives," Brown added. "Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family against severe illness, hospitalization and death. And, by wearing masks, all of us -- vaccinated and unvaccinated -- can help ensure that a hospital bed staffed by health professionals is available for our loved ones in their time of need."
She added that tighter measures would also ensure that children could return to classrooms with "minimal disruptions in a few weeks" and avoid a repeat of the "darkest days of our winter surge," the Post reported.
The new rules in Oregon come as battles over masks rage in some other states. In Florida, the state's second-largest school system says it's considering legal action to challenge a ban on mask mandates that Gov. Ron Desantis signed into law recently, and the school's board voted Tuesday evening to keep its own mask rules in place for students and staff.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on masking.