Reopening Washington County

July 27, 2021 statement regarding mask-wearing in light of new CDC and OHA guidance:

COVID-19 cases are rising in Washington County because unvaccinated people — who are not protected from the more contagious Delta variant — are becoming infected at higher rates. Virtually all deaths and hospitalizations in the U.S. are among unvaccinated people. The best protection against the virus is vaccination, so we urge everyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible. Infections do occur infrequently in fully vaccinated people, but they tend to be mild.  

The CDC and OHA are recommending that everyone wear a mask in indoor public spaces — this is to protect children and others who have not yet received a vaccination and to prevent further spread of the virus. We agree with this guidance and recommend that everyone in Washington County wear masks in indoor public spaces and get vaccinated to prevent further spread, more hospitalizations and deaths. 

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Effective June 30, 2021, the State of Oregon has lifted most COVID-19 restrictions. Masks, physical distancing and capacity limits are no longer legally required in many businesses and public settings; however, businesses can choose to keep restrictions, mask-wearing and other measures in place.  Masks and physical distancing are still required in airports, on public transit, and in health care settings.

Washington County is in alignment with the Governor’s Office and the Oregon Health Authority about lifting the mandates. Masks are no longer required in County buildings, either by staff or visitors. Departments that manage congregate settings (e.g., jail, corrections) will enact department-specific mask policies that conform to federal requirements.  

Although these protective measures are no longer requirements, they are still a great way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 and other respiratory virures. Of course, the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated if you can. That being said, we want to emphasize the value of wearing masks, especially for those who are not vaccinated or who have health issues that put them at risk for serious complications from any respiratory illness. The pandemic is not over. If you are not vaccinated, you are not protected from getting sick from COVID-19.

As we move into flu season this fall, mask-wearing will likely prove to be beneficial, evidenced by the fact that there was very little flu activity last fall when everyone was wearing masks. We hope people who choose to continue to wear masks – particularly in indoor public places where all viruses (not just the coronavirus) are more likely to spread – will feel comfortable doing so. Let's all be kind and respectful of one another.

Our specific recommendation: If you are not fully vaccinated, Washington County Public Health recommends you continue to wear a mask and practice physical distancing in these situations:

  • Indoors when you are around people not in your household who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Indoors when you are in public or when you don’t know if someone around you is vaccinated.

Our work is not done. We are committed to closing the vaccination equity gap. Read our report here.