Oregon Gov. Kate Brown just joined the ranks of Democrats proudly turning back to their old, tyrannical COVID-19 ways by mandating masks outdoors, on top of already requiring them inside.
According to Brown’s newest requirements, Oregonians, regardless of their vaccination status, are now required to wear face coverings outside when they can’t be socially distanced. Exceptions to the rule include children under 5 years old, homeless people living outdoors (no matter how much or little physical distance is between them), and people playing sports or giving a speech or performance.
Brown previously lifted practically all statewide restrictions on June 30, including mask and social distancing requirements, making counties responsible for ensuring local public health. Before that, Oregon health officials had sought to make the state’s mask mandates permanent. Now, however, the governor claims mandating masks is necessary to protect the public and keep Oregon citizens safe.
“The Delta variant is spreading fast and wide, throwing our state into a level of crisis we have not yet seen in the pandemic,” Brown said in a statement. “Cases and hospitalizations are at a record high. Masks are a quick and simple tool we can immediately deploy to protect ourselves and our families, and quickly help stop further spread of COVID-19.”
There were shootouts on the streets of Portland last week between Antifa and Proud Boys, in part because last year Oregon outlawed use of non-lethal crowd control such as pepper gas. Cops have no legal immunity if they use it.
But Brown considers *this* a public saftey issue? https://t.co/623yZPxRUi
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) August 25, 2021
While Brown claims masking has “proven to be effective at bringing case counts down, and are a necessary measure right now, even in some outdoor settings, to help fight COVID and protect one another,” the science is shaky.
“Scientists on both sides of the discussion believe more study needs to be done” about outdoor transmission, one article that hinted at an outdoor mask mandate before Brown’s announcement noted. “There’s little research into delta’s transmissibility outdoors because it’s so new.”
2/ Buried deep within, however, is this nugget. pic.twitter.com/UlgLbnlfYD
— Paul Diller (@dilleradollar) August 18, 2021
There is currently no statewide vaccine mandate in Oregon but Brown is already taking steps to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine is forced on multiple people. Last week, on top of demanding healthcare workers get the vaccine, undergo weekly testing, or lose their jobs, she expanded the state’s COVID-19 shot requirements to encompass all state employees. According to her order, Oregon executive branch employees must be vaccinated by Oct. 18.
These mask and vaccine mandates have been criticized by several people in Brown’s own state including Sandy, Oregon Mayor Stan Pulliam who, after a year of extensive COVID tyranny, is exploring a run for governor for 2022.
“I find it very surprising that predominantly the same group of people that want to call conservatives racist for insisting on an ID to vote are now coming forward with these vaccine passports,” Pulliam told The Federalist. “This is bewildering that someone would have to go through a medical procedure of obtaining a vaccine in order to just go to a college football game … people certainly should not have to take on a medical decision that used to be an American right to make for ourselves just in order to have employment.”
Using the same rationale and rhetoric employed by forever-pandemic bureaucrats, Brown claimed that mask-wearing and certain mandatory vaccinations will “return our kids to the classroom with minimal disruptions in a few weeks.”
That promise of a return to in-person schooling, however, wavers as public schools and teachers’ unions grow increasingly concerned with virus spread. A day after Portland Public Schools announced it would require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Brown announced a similar mandate for all K-12 teachers and staff in the state. While reports suggest that nearly 98 percent of PPS educators have received the shot, the district chose to move forward with verifying educators’ vaccine passports. Those who don’t comply due to a medical or religious exemption will be subject to regular COVID-19 testing.
The decision comes after negotiations with teachers’ unions such as the Portland Association of Teachers which pressured the district to add vaccine mandates on top of the already-in-place mask requirements. Elizabeth Thiel, president of the PAT, also “expressed support for a vaccination requirement for students.”
“Our schools did not have kids in the classroom for the predominant portion of the school year last year and we’re just to a point now where it really needs to come down to individual choice and liberty when it comes to the decision to wear masks,” Pulliam said. “I’m not sure what the goals are that we’re attempting to accomplish.”
“Are we trying to protect the children? Well, children have been proven to be very resilient and fighting back against this virus,” he added. “Are we looking to protect the unvaccinated? Well, I’m sorry but the unvaccinated have been educated now for several months on this vaccine. Many of them have made the personal and individual decisions for themselves not to take the vaccine and that’s their American right.”
Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.