As mask mandates end, Oregon bucks trend with permanent rule
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Thread: As mask mandates end, Oregon bucks trend with permanent rule

  1. #1

    As mask mandates end, Oregon bucks trend with permanent rule

    As mask mandates end, Oregon bucks trend with permanent rule-masks.jpg

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — As states around the country lift COVID-19 restrictions, Oregon is poised to go the opposite direction — and many residents are fuming about it.

    A top health official is considering indefinitely extending rules requiring masks and social distancing in all businesses in the state.

    The proposal would keep the rules in place until they are “no longer necessary to address the effects of the pandemic in the workplace.”

    Michael Wood, administrator of the state’s department of Occupational Safety and Health, said the move is necessary to address a technicality in state law that requires a “permanent” rule to keep current restrictions from expiring.

    “We are not out of the woods yet,” he said.

    But the idea has prompted a flood of angry responses, with everyone from parents to teachers to business owners and employees crying government overreach.

    Wood’s agency received a record number of public comments, mostly critical, and nearly 60,000 residents signed a petition against the proposal.

    Opponents also are upset government officials won’t say how low Oregon’s COVID-19 case numbers must go, or how many people would have to be vaccinated, to get the requirements lifted in a state that’s already had some of the nation’s strictest safety measures.

    “When will masks be unnecessary? What scientific studies do these mandates rely on, particularly now that the vaccine is days away from being available to everyone?” said state Sen. Kim Thatcher, a Republican from Keizer, near the state’s capital. “Businesses have had to play ‘mask cop’ for the better part of a year now. They deserve some certainty on when they will no longer be threatened with fines.”

    Wood said he is reviewing all the feedback to see if changes are needed before he makes a final decision by May 4, when the current rules lapse.

    Oregon, a blue state, has been among those with the country’s most stringent COVID-19 restrictions and now stands in contrast with much of the rest of the nation as vaccines become more widely available.

    At least six states — Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota and Texas — have lifted mask mandates, and some never implemented them. In Texas, businesses reopened at 100% capacity last month.

    In January, Virginia became the first in the nation to enact permanent COVID-19 workplace safety and health rules.

    “While the end of this pandemic is finally in sight, the virus is still spreading — and now is not the time to let up on preventative measures,” Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said following the announcement mask and distancing requirements, Oregon’s proposal includes more arcane workplace rules regarding air flow, ventilation, employee notification in case of an outbreak, and sanitation protocols.

    It dovetails with separate actions issued by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, using a state of emergency declaration, requiring masks in public statewide — and even outside when 6 feet (1.83 meters) of distance can’t be maintained — and providing strict, county-by-county thresholds for business closures or reductions in capacity when case numbers rise above certain levels.

    More than a third of Oregon’s counties are currently limited to indoor social gatherings of six people, and the maximum occupancy for indoor dining, indoor entertainment and gyms is 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is less. And many schools are just now reopening after a year of online learning.

    The workplace rule is “driven by the pandemic, and it will be repealed,” Wood said.

    “But, it might not need to go away at exactly the same time the State of Emergency is lifted,” he said, referring to Brown’s executive orders.

    Amid pandemic frustration and deprivation, the issue has gained a lot of attention. A petition on opposing the rule gained nearly 60,000 signatures and spread on social media, drawing even more interest to the proposal. More than 5,000 public comments were sent to the agency, smashing its previous record of 1,100.

    “The majority of comments were simply hostile to the entire notion of COVID-19 restrictions,” Wood said. “The vast majority of comments were in the context of, ‘You never needed to do anything.’”

    Justin Spaulding, a doctor at the Cataract & Laser Institute of Southern Oregon, is among those who raised concerns about the proposal in public comments.

    “I do not understand these new guidelines for business. If we put these into effect we will only continue to blunt the recent drop in business,” he wrote. “We have a large subset of patients that are unwilling (or) hostile with the current guidelines, and making them permanent will only make it worse.”

    For Thatcher, the GOP state lawmaker, the most concerning part is “OSHA’s lack of clarity” on when the rules will be lifted.

    Officials said they have every intent to repeal the rule, and that decision will be made based on a complex mix of factors, including case counts, vaccination rates, case severity and advice from the Oregon Health Authority.

    “It will be a complicated assessment when we do it, and I would say it is impossibly complicated to do in advance,” Wood said.

    Last edited by Oldgrunt; 04-18-2021 at 09:54 PM. Reason: post not entered

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    ARIZONA-a short distance from the sun
    Couldn't happen to a better place.
    Don’t be one of the many unfortunate souls who ignore the “signs” and will be left behind!
    “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    ARIZONA-a short distance from the sun
    The latest from CDC is incredible—here ya go from the CDC website itself: For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to: Take precautions in indoor public settings like wearing a well-fitted mask; Wear well-fitted masks when visiting indoors with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease; Wear well-fitted masks when visiting indoors with unvaccinated people from multiple households; Avoid indoor large-sized in-person gatherings; Get tested if experiencing COVID -19 symptoms; Follow guidance issued by individual employers; Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations.” There you have it. The end of our public service message from the CDC.

    Let’s get this straight. You get the vaccine so you are protected from getting COVID and can go back to some semblance of normal living. Right? Yet, even when you get the vaccine, you still have to take all the precautions non-vaccinated people must take so you don’t get the virus and spread it. So what is this all about? CDC says on its website that they don’t know how long vaccine protection lasts or if it is effective against other strains. CDC says “Until more is known and vaccination coverage increases, some prevention measures will continue to be necessary in some settings for all people, regardless of vaccination status.” Christ said in Matthew 24:4, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” While we are figuring all that out, we can fill our time with another game of Uncle Sam Says—“raise your mask over your eyes.” Say it with me…Stupidocrisy.
    Don’t be one of the many unfortunate souls who ignore the “signs” and will be left behind!
    “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

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