Brown told reporters Saturday she had hoped not to tighten restrictions meant to control the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Gov. Kate Brown announced Monday that state residents will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public places beginning Wednesday in response to the Covid virus outbreak.
"Modeling from the Oregon Health Authority shows that if we don't take further action to reduce the spread of the disease, our hospitals could be overwhelmed by new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations within weeks", Brown said.
Face covering requirements were mandated in eight counties last week. "The choices every single one of us make in the coming days matter". Brown approved reopening for some jurisdictions that did not meet the state's initial requirements for contact tracers and she allowed Multnomah County to reopen even though the county did not see declining hospitalization numbers.
"If too many Oregonians continue to ignore these precautions, we could see an exponential growth in cases, and newly reopened communities and businesses could close again. If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face covering when out in public", Brown said.
The governor's announcement spurred immediate support from an industry group representing hospitals.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, more than 8,500 people in the state have tested positive for the virus with more than 200 deaths. But as new cases have mounted throughout the state, some have begun pushing for a more widespread policy. And the state's grocery lobby has requested that the public wear masks when shopping, regardless of where they live. "We have a chance, now, before the Fourth of July weekend, to make sure that Oregon's COVID-19 numbers don't follow the same skyrocketing trajectory of states like Texas or Florida or Arizona", Brown said.
"When I first declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus, there were 14 cases of COVID-19 in Oregon. Another spike in cases after the upcoming holiday weekend could put OR in a risky position".
Brown's order on face masks was made under the authority of an emergency declaration she made in March.
The emergency declaration that Oregon's now operating under is set to expire on July 6.