Governor Says OSHA to Enforce Mask Order

As of July 1, masks are required statewide per Gov. Kate Brown’s orders. Brown has been generally hesitant to discuss the specifics of mask enforcement, but her office recently assigned Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA Oregon) to execute these mask requirements.   

On June 27, Brown said that she will be penalizing any businesses that do not enforce mask wearing. This is an entirely different stance compared to her previous one, in which she stated that businesses should encourage mask-wearing but not force patrons to wear them.  

A couple days later on June 29, she stated that she would shut down businesses again if people didn’t wear masks inside public areas, specifically in shops, restaurants, and bars, where citizens can easily become more careless with social distancing and mask wearing.   

State Troopers Defy Order 

But even a few police have chosen to ignore the governor’s orders. On July 1, a group of Oregon State Police troopers were maskless inside a Corvallis coffee shop. The establishment’s assistant manager, Travis Boss, claimed that when he informed one trooper that he needed to wear a mask inside the facility, the man allegedly replied, “Governor Brown has no authority to take our civil liberties. We aren’t going to wear masks.” He also allegedly said, “F— Kate Brown.”  

Mask Order Responds to Surge in Cases 

Mask enforcement rules come after Brown extended Oregon’s state of emergency to another 60 days, in order to ensure that the surge in cases does not worsen. Brown has taken on a new tone of urgency, as Oregon has been experiencing an intense spike in positive COVID-19 cases – as of July 2, Oregon has reported 375 new positive cases of COVID-19, which is a record high and 94 more cases than just the day before, July 1.    

Brown Trying to Avoid Another Shutdown 

Brown said in a statement on June 30, “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. Oregon, you have a choice. You can help to save lives again. What happens next is up to all of us.”  

By Cara Nixon