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‘We are all in danger’: Gov. Brown, OHA officials defend mask mandate, vaccination moves

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – Citing “shocking,” record numbers of Oregon COVID-19 cases fueled by the far more contagious delta variant, Gov. Kate Brown and state health officials used the latest statistics Wednesday to make the case that only more vaccinated Oregonians – and following indoor mask mandates -- can ease hospitals’ crisis and avoid a return to more severe rules.

The latest state numbers show 90% of ICU beds are filled, with some regions having as few as five open ICU beds to start the day, Brown said.

“The harsh reality is, delta is a different virus,” the governor said. “It has changed everything.”

And that, she said, is why masks will be required in all indoor public settings starting Friday.

What constitutes "indoor public settings"? The Oregon Health Authority will be issuing more guidance in coming days, an aide to the governor told NewsChannel 21. "In the meantime, common shared spaces in workplaces and other settings are included," the aide said.

The governor announced Tuesday vaccination requirements for state Executive Branch workers on or before Oct. 18, or six weeks after a COVID-19 vaccine receives full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, whichever is later.

“The science is clear, that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals are able to spread the delta variant,” Brown said Wednesday. “Masks are simple, and they are effective. Wearing a mask should give you the confidence that you are not infecting others,” while also offering the “best bet at keeping schools and businesses open.”

“I know Oregonians are tired of wearing masks – I am too,” she said. But wearing one can mean one more child being protected, Brown said, and “could keep a best friend or loved one out of the hospital. … Let’s show our front-line workers that while they are saving lives, we are willing to do something simple, like put a mask on.”

“Until more people get vaccinated, we are all in danger,” Brown said.

Brown noted the latest OHA modeling shows if current case trends continue, Oregon hospital beds could be short 500 critical-care beds next month – but if 80% of Oregonians comply with the mask requirement, that is likely to cut the number of additional hospital beds needed by half, to about 250.

“Unvaccinated Oregonians are the majority of patients in the ICU, and the overwhelming majority of COVID deaths right now,” Brown said. “Trust that the vaccines are the best way to keep you out of the hospital.”

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state epidemiologist, said the state is in a “dire stage,” as the “unrelenting delta variant is sweeping through our communities.

“The data reaffirms what science has long supported,” Sidelinger said, that “vaccines are preventing serious disease, and they are saving lives.”

Oregon Health Authority used chart to show much higher COVID-19 surge in counties with low vaccination rates

But for now, Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said the variant is “spreading uncontrollably through the unvaccinated” population, and sending more young people to the hospital.

“Because the delta variant makes one sicker, on average, they are having to stay in the hospital longer,” Allen said.

Steps being taken, Allen said, include mobilizing “nurse crisis teams” and working with the state Department of Human Services and long-term care facilities to move people who can be placed there, to free up hospital beds. Funding issues also are being addressed, such as streamlining the Medicare coverage process.

There were a few good statistics to share, such as Oregon ranking 12th in the country for fully vaccinated residents, and a 44% increase in daily vaccination counts over the past two weeks, as the delta variant sparked new concerns.

“Haven’t found time to get the shot?” Allen asked. “Get vaccinated, before the delta variant finds you!”

During media questioning about her past actions, the governor said, “Did we reopen too soon? No. Delta changed everything. This variant is three times more contagious, more severe, and is spreading, particularly through our vulnerable populations, very rapidly.”

And Brown said her path was set after meeting with county commissioners and learning that “for the most part, elected officials were not willing to make the tough decisions” – such as mask mandates – to ensure local hospitals had adequate staffing and needed room for urgent care.

Asked at what point there could be mandates for proof of vaccination, the governor said, “We know this variant makes its own timeline,” citing the projection of cutting needed hospital beds in half if 80% of Oregonians follow the mask mandates.

As for whether schools should require educators to get vaccinated, Brown said she had acted regarding the state workers she has authority to make such decisions about.

“Local superintendents need to make that decision, that is in their very capable hands,” Brown said.

Asked about events that have not been curbed and what will happen with the Pendleton Round-Up or Ducks football, Brown said, “I would encourage public and private employers to take action,” as well as “local authorities … to prevent vulnerable community members.”

“At this point, I am asking Oregonians to mask up,” Brown said. “We will again re-evaluate every couple of weeks.”

Asked about capacity requirements, Brown stuck to the steps taken and the calls for Oregonians to again step up as they have earlier in the pandemic: “We need to put this virus to bed.”

Here's the governor's news release:

Governor Kate Brown Announces Statewide Indoor Mask Requirements

Urges Oregonians to get vaccinated, wear masks to help stop spread of the Delta variant

Encourages Oregonians to make a plan for extreme heat, sign up for ORAlert.gov

 (Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown held a press conference today to provide an update on the status of COVID-19 in Oregon and to announce new statewide indoor mask requirements. To help stop the highly contagious Delta variant from spreading further, masks will be required in all indoor public settings, effective Friday, August 13. The Governor was joined by Patrick Allen, Director of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and Dr. Dean Sidelinger, State Epidemiologist.

“Because of the Delta variant, yesterday we had over 2,300 COVID-19 cases reported––the highest number since the virus first landed in Oregon—and hospitalizations are also at a record high,” said Governor Brown. “New modeling from OHA and Oregon Health & Science University project that, without new safety interventions, COVID-19 hospitalizations will completely overwhelm our doctors and nurses in the coming weeks. When hospitals run out of beds, we are all at risk.

“We continue to work to reach Oregonians with information and a vaccine, but it’s clear the current situation requires immediate action to stop the Delta variant from spreading further. That’s why, moving forward for the immediate future, masks will be required in all indoor public settings.

“The latest science is clear that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals are able to spread the Delta variant. Masks are simple, and they are effective. Wearing a mask should give you confidence that you are not infecting others, and they are also our best bet at keeping our schools and our businesses open.”

The Governor also reminded Oregonians to treat forecast high temperatures seriously. She urged Oregonians without air conditioning to make a plan now to find a cooling center in their area by connecting with 211. She is also encouraging Oregonians to sign up to receive emergency notifications by visiting ORAlert.gov. And with high temperatures intensifying wildfire conditions, she is urging everyone to do their part to prevent fires at a time when most of the state is under extreme fire danger.

Heat-Related Resources

Additional Materials from Today's Press Conference

  • Oregon Indoor Mask Requirement Fact Sheet
  • A recording of today's press conference — with an American Sign Language simulcast — is available on YouTube. Please note the video starts at the 11:55 mark.
  • A copy of the Governor's prepared remarks is available here.

The reaction, as one might expect, was not all supportive, as in this news release from Oregon Senate Republicans:

Senate Republican Leader Blasts Governor's New Mandates

SALEM, Ore. – Just weeks after giving Oregonians their freedom back, Governor Brown has been on a tear, issuing new mandate after new mandate.

Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) issued the following statement about the Governor’s most recent mask and vaccine mandates:

“The Governor has a serious credibility problem. She obviously has no clear standards for any decision she makes. Instead, these mandates seem to be driven by left-wing activists who want a permanent pandemic to push forward unpopular policies. When asked in her press conference about when she would drop the mask mandate, she totally evaded the question.

“Forcing vaccinations on anybody is a total violation of Oregonians' individual rights. It won’t lead to a large uptick in vaccination, but instead segregate society by medical status.

“If the state wants to mandate vaccines for Oregonians, the state must take legal and financial liability. Right now, no one – not the insurers, not the drug companies, not the government, no one – takes responsibility when things go wrong when someone receives a vaccine. We know that in rare circumstances, blood clots and other conditions result from the COVID-19 vaccine. If Democrats want to mandate vaccines, they must take financial responsibility and liability for the consequences.”


News release from the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association:

Statewide Mask Mandate Must Prevent More Business Restrictions
Oregonians have had a choice for months and the choice is clear – get vaccinated

Statement from President & CEO Jason Brandt:

We can’t overstate how exhausted the hospitality industry is from an unthinkable health crisis spanning 18 months and counting. A new statewide mask mandate taking effect in 2 days must not lead to any other statewide business regulations. The industry is nowhere near recovery and has a long road ahead after all statewide restrictions were officially lifted 42 days ago. ORLA will work directly with Oregon OSHA and will advocate for a focus on ensuring appropriate signage is in place at businesses in addition to their oversight role for employee safety.

For more information on the efforts of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association please visit OregonRLA.org.

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.

Comments

131 Comments

    1. Your user name doesn’t quite add up…
      .
      If she’s not wearing a mask, you say “wHy iSn’t sHe wEaRIng oNe?”, but if she’s wearing a mask, you say “wHy iS sHE wEarINg a mAsK iF sHe’S oN viDEo?” STFU, bud.
      .
      A bunch of petulant children, your party is.

  1. Can’t tell if jabronie is being serious or not there but think can count on one hand how many times we’ve seen her wear a mask. The rules aren’t for the leaders to follow just us undesirable underlings.🤨

    1. Brown and all her minions were making an announcement about some new BS mandate. None of them were wearing masks only the kids. That’s child abuse right in front of our faces.

  2. It seems inmates have more medical rights than state workers. It would be illegal to force inmates to “take the jab” but you state workers. You will obey your masters.

        1. Sanbend….can you believe that argument? How many millions died of smallpox???? Not even in the same league. And we are using pcr tests to diagnose covid, maybe that is why influenza disappeared.

        1. Such an ignorant comment. There are many not getting the vaccine that are not conservative or republican, as much as I would like to think 65% ish of African, non-vaccinated Americans are Republicans. And of those that are Republicans, they do not blindly follow Trump’s thoughts on the Vaccine like many liberals seem to do. For you to assume everyone is a lamb to be led is naive and bigoted.

    1. That’s not what your link shows. Unvaxxed in hospital 32, partially vaxxed in hospital 37, vaxxed in hospital 6.
      ICU numbers show more vaxxed in, but if you read your whole link it gives a partial explanation for why that is.
      You should read your own links.

  3. Yep…keep it political because the COVID virus knows if you’re republican or democrat. Oh and it also knows if you or your vulnerable children are unvaccinated. Hey morons…how about if non-vaxers pay there entire hospital bill once infected?

  4. “I know Oregonians are tired of wearing masks – I am too,” she said. But wearing one can mean one more child being protected, Brown said, and “could keep a best friend or loved one out of the hospital. … Let’s show our front-line workers that while they are saving lives, we are willing to do something simple, like put a mask on.”

    Too bad your FREEDUMB is more important than the lives of your friends and family!

      1. Remember when we could have nipped this pandemic thing in the bud back in early 2020, but a certain group of people played it down and ignored the severity of a new Coronavirus? Science experts (including virologists and epidemiologists) estimated 70% of a population being vaccinated would result in herd immunity. Well that was then, and like all biological entities, viruses evolve and change. We are dealing with a new virus that is more transmissible and herd immunity stats for a different virus don’t apply to this new strain. Science can tell us many things, and unfortunately for our country, many do not want to listen.

        1. Wait, are you saying we could have eradicated covid? If so, you are a uneducated fool. It’ll be here forever, no matter how many masks that don’t block viral transmission.

  5. Sorry the numbers also say this is way less deadly. People have just been so brained washed with fear a simple sniffle sends them to the hospital. I won’t be complying, plain and simple. My body my choice 🙂 Suck it up Karen’s!!!

  6. This is wrong. This is not America. When she has parental rights over my child you know this is opposite of what America stands for. I wish people would wake up and see that. Unfortunately Oregon has been overrun by the ignorant. So sad.

  7. Good ol’Lab-flu aint ever going away lol! Not everyone will just roll over and do what they’re told 2x around though. The fact is that the news has helped be the catalyst for all the hate and division in our country. Its clear what side you lean KTVZ, and the agenda your pushing..

        1. Let me help, Barney:
          .
          This is at the bottom of the page you linked (I added punctuation marks to aid in format):
          .
          “This is a new data collection and the data quality will continue to improve as hospitals continue to submit data.
          .
          In order to understand the vaccination status of patients currently hospitalized, a new data collection process was developed and this may cause discrepancies between other hospitalization numbers being collected using a different data collection process.
          .
          Data on patients in ICU are being collected from two different data sources with different extraction times and public reporting cycles. The existing data source (Critical Care Information System, CCIS) does not have vaccination status.”
          .
          This means the data you’re referring to is new and not exactly accurate as of yet. Like most other datasets during this pandemic, it is an estimate based on information available.

            1. Yes. because that isnt what is says. The only way anyone can interpret your link the way you are trying is if they were to count “partially vaxxed” as “fully vaxxed” which would be dishonest sophistry. They aren’t the same thing.

      1. Reputable media outlet is a stretch. Still have yet to post a story about new requirements for high school graduates. But you won’t share this post because you literally censor news anymore and any post the criticizes you. What happened to you Barney.? I really used to respect you and Lee and KTVZ. No longer!

        1. I have allowed numerous posts on that, even a link I think someone shared to Oregonian site, the only one to report it so far. We may well look into it.
          The idea that I don’t allow any post that criticizes me… oh my goodness, certain people disprove that every day here by the dozens.

          1. No need to get defensive. I’ve posted a variety of comments in varying degrees of pointedness over the last few weeks which seemed tame compared to others. In fact I thought it was a technical issue.
            If there was a word, phrase, personality reference, topics that tripped the bouncing betty then please explain so perhaps some changes can be made but still get point across..
            Is there some arbitrary time period in the cancel corner or indefinite 86?

            1. When you’re attacked every day, unfairly, defensiveness is a human trait I won’t apologize for.
              I do not keep track on PURPOSE of why a comment is not allowed, but in general, the term “offensive” is a judgment call I make 100s and 1,000s of times a week (our comment volume has doubled in recent weeks for some reason.)
              Tricky times.

      2. Omg Barney come on. You can’t believe what you are saying.

        “We are presenting the same information as every other reputable media outlet in the state is presenting. Facts are and always will be our agenda.”

        Who is we? You got a mouse in your pocket? Everyone knows this is all you. Reputable? Is that what you are calling CNN nowadays. Try doing your own research sir.

        Facts will always be our agenda is the funniest thing I have heard all year. Thanks for the much needed levity.

          1. CNN is trash and so is Fox. They don’t report the news, they try to tell you how you should feel.

            But the point is that KTVZ is not about getting the facts right. Come on man, let’s line up the people who have been misquoted by you guys.

            I do applaud you for responding though

            1. ANY error on a quotation or whatever, we’re told of, we’ll fix. And of course, if they are on camera, it’s hard to misquote someone. (Usually it’s more, “But I also said….”) Sorry, we don’t run 5-minute stories. There’s always more to a story – no excuse, just fact.)

  8. It is Breaking the law… Called the Nuremberg code… From any experimental drug… This is a experimental jab not approved by the FDA.. causes severe side effects can even cause death dementia blood clots heart conditions… Oh but Obama can have a party with no masks… It’s the double standard ..cancel culture the left tyrannical they don’t do as they say.. the fakedemic is over.. the flu virus is real. But the PCR test are rigged… The test positive even for the flu… And guess who has shares in that company? Plus Kovid Kate… Doesn’t even look at the science. It’s disgusting what she’s done to the state.

  9. Thank you once again, Gov. Brown. Your consistent efforts have safely placed Oregon in the 5 lowest mortality and hospitalization rates among the states. (And Deschutes County has done twice as well as, even, the rest of the state!) Unfortunately, it takes a national effort to achieve the public health and commercial outcomes that we could have had if ALL the states had followed your example.

        1. Ok, so are you saying populated areas such as large cities don’t matter with viral transmission? Now use google to show us states with the largest cities and tell us if they are on the highest rates and hospitalizations.

  10. Here is a long article about the recent surge of covid cases and hospitalizations and all you guys can do is spew your constant hatred of our governer. You will take any excuse to trash your local buggy man (woman) about some minor issue in order to deflect from what you really should be discussing. Infection rates, vaccines and an overwhelmed health care system. This is just our reality. If you doubt it, and many of you doubt anything you don’t hear from your “trusted” news source, then just sit back in your lazy-boy and continue to ignore this inconvenient fact. Time will tell who is right soon enough. Probably sooner than you think.

    1. The hospital is not overwhelmed with covid, remember a month ago there were 5 covid patients and they were overwhelmed due to staffing ? Wake up pal.

  11. Tennessee’s health commissioner expects the state’s children’s hospitals to be full by the week’s end. Louisiana reached that point more than a week ago. And Arkansas’ only children’s hospital has just two ICU beds remaining.

    Nothing to see here.

    1. Please show us where ANYONE said that Covid-19 preventative measures were 100% effective. Non-vaccinated individuals make up the gargantuan majority of hospitalized and deceased due to this preventable disease.
      .
      Your point is moot.

      1. Biden literally said if you get the vaxx you won’t get covid. So there’s that. We were told the magic 70% vaxx would fix everything. You forgot all that?

        1. Is Biden a doctor? I didn’t think so. That’s why I don’t take health advice from him. The overwhelming majority of health experts agree that the three main Covid-19 vaccines are extremely effective against hospitalization and death.
          .
          You forgot all that?

    2. Yes and seatbelts don’t always save your life in a car accident. I am still going to wear one. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

        1. It is important. In your small sample group, 80% of deaths are unvaccinated. Get vaccinated and reduce your chance of death and hospitalization significantly!

          1. I have a 99% chance of not even having a symptom. There are many side effects including death from the vaccines, they don’t know anything about long term issues from it. They can’t even tell us how long they last or when boosters will be required.

          2. How many of your 80% include a single “underlying condition” ??? Safe to say 97% ! Is that why you are so afraid of this mild virus- your own underlying conditions ? For the rest of us- who have lived a healthy lifestyle- too bad ! You made your choices- now deal with them an leave the rest of us out- you are- in a word- Selfish !

        2. The vaccinated that are dying are the very vulnerable and likely had no immune system to work with the vaccine. 4 out of five is actually horrible odds so you are letting us all know you are mathematically very challenged

  12. And will the police actually be showing up when called to enforce? Or will we be expecting our minimumwage workers to now pull double duty as unpaid security guards and face potential harm from the crazy antimaskers that will surely go right back to blaming their local stores for the governor’s policies?

    The vaccinated should not be forced to mask themselves just to protect the un-vaccinated. We did our part, if the others choose death then so be it. Let them have what they want, let nature take its course, and let those of us who did the right thing live our lives.

    1. And children, who at this point cannot be vaccinated (and officials say their case numbers are rising) – what category do you put those, when someone who has the virus but is asymptomatic can, again according to OHA and other officials, infect them?

      1. Why not ask the people at the very hospitals where people are expecting those children to be treated? They aren’t requiring vaccinations, just weekly “testing”; giving them plenty of time to spread the virus to others. Especially people who are, due to being in a hospital, presumably already in a weakened state to begin with?

        Why hold the public to higher standards than we are holding the people who are supposed medical professionals?

        I supported wearing masks and I still support wearings masks. However, I only do so when every other option has been exhausted, and when precautions are being applied equally. When the FDA stops stalling and approves the vaccine, and laws require everyone to get it, and we are still seeing rises in cases; then I will happily support masking everyone once again.

  13. Unfortunately, the few who choose to be irresponsible and fail to protect themselves, friends, neighbors, family, and public in general through their selfish short-sighted actions have forced us to again impose protective measures on everyone. If you don’t like it, get vaccinated or move somewhere like Florida where the irresponsible continue to ignore basic science and expert advice.

  14. What happened to the lockdown “buying us time” to build treatment facilities so that future outbreaks wouldnt cause us to have to resort to this sort of things?

    Oh yeah. Those cost money and no one wanted to pay for it. Better to just mask up the peasents. Its cheaper that way.

    1. @Blue, there was also the assumption that people would get vaccinated so we wouldn’t be back in this situation again. But people are simple to self absorbed and selfish to do what is needed to help our society get over this hurdle.

  15. If only we could have all gotten behind wearing masks and then getting vaccinated when they became available. The selfish part of our population who deny the seriousness and complain about wearing masks, don’t see the irony in that it has been their actions that are causing everyone, and our children to continue to have to wear masks. I don’t know what reality they live in.

    We could have been done with this. But I guess you can’t fix stupid.

      1. You are wrong. Re read your link:in hospital 32, 37, 6 for unvaxxed partially vaxxed, fully vaxxed respectively.

        ICU numbers are different.

      1. Bwahahaaa… “Russia-Russia-Russia” was labeled 100% false- yet you ran with it here at Z21 for three years ! Where’s the correction- the apology- the accountability ??? And now you want to be taken seriously on the headline of the day ? Fat Chance- you skrewed yerself here bucko- now deal with the fall out. Shameful- absolutely shameful !

        1. No one labled it 100% false. Trump sucked the whole country into his idiocracy. Dude cratered his own airline, his own university, his own charity, a football league, his finances, remember when George Washington took over the airports during the revolutionary war? Or the time he was going to throw out a first pitch except the Yankees said they never offered that?

          Your boy sucked so hard he couldn’t even get re elected, just like a Bush. LOL. Trump sucked.

  16. Where the hell is her proof masks work they can’t because there is no evidence. This is all about power from a dumb a== Democrat yielding an axe over your head. Faucism has been worn out for a long time. Obama’s party was ok because he is an elite jerk.

  17. Most medical professionals who aren’t on tv, aren’t democrat or government paid will agree that your masks don’t help. Everyone needs to be wearing properly fitted N100 respirators if you’re scared of the COVID monster. My vaccinated spouse has COVID right now, at home quarantining with us. It’s not that bad if you’re healthy. It’s just the flu. Buuuut, if you’re fat, a smoker, old, or got health issues already, then you should be nervous. Heck you should be nervous every year the flu comes around. If you’re in one of those categories, drop your cloth or paper mask and grab an N100. They filter down to .3 microns, N95 is only 1 micron. Make sure it fits perfectly and wash your hands often. If you’re healthy, nothing to worry about. Just general fatigue for a day or two and you’ll be back to normal in no time. We are on day 2 of my spouse being quarantined and everything’s all good.

    1. Well, not exactly. My closest friend is a 48 year old ex marine, works out daily and is in perfect health. He believed the same thing you do. In November he went hunting with some of our friends and one was infected but didn’t tell anyone. Ten days later he was in the hospital. He spent 3 weeks in the ICU at Legacy Meridian in Tualatin. He got better for a few weeks and then things went sour again. The second stint in the hospital lasted two more weeks on a ventilator in an induced coma. After he got out he was 35 lbs lighter and extremely weak. Now he is still on the rebound 8 months later with a lot of lingering side effects, including constant exhaustion making it difficult to work.
      Fast forward to today and all my family members are vaccinated. My elderly father and mother both got the Delta variant last week and both are in the hospital. Neither needed to be on ventilators.
      Both are expected to be released in the next few days.
      I am sure a lot of you will make whatever truths you want of these stories. I am just sharing my own experience.

  18. Zero chance that I’m putting a mask back on. There are more vaccine doses than people. Anyone who didn’t get the jab and sitting in ICU, very sad but I’m not adjusting my life.

  19. Fact checkers are funded by Fakebook! You should see the videos they are showing of Hunter Biden. If it was Trump’s boys the news & TMZ would be all over it.

  20. **** ****, demonrats allowing the invasion at the southern border are the only real danger to American citizens, followed by demonrat governors.

  21. why are we suppose to get a vaccine that doesn’t protect against a variant? the tests don’t test for any variant only positive or negative for sars cov so where are the delta case numbers coming from if it isn’t from the test.. Does anyone know the answer to these questions?

    1. That’s exactly what the medical community is saying. We all see through the BS because we follow the science. Looks like you do too. Makes you wonder why the government is forcing many to be part of the experiment if its the Delta variant that’s running amuck

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