The sand was packed to the brim on a recent sunny day in this exclusive beach town on the Oregon coast, but signs of the state of caution from the pandemic were still everywhere. Almost all visitors to the beach wore masks (those that didn’t look nasty) and lines for a seat at the numerous local cafes and restaurants that meandered along the sidewalk due to rules limiting capacity to 25%.
It was a stark contrast to places like Florida or Texas, where many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted for weeks. But even when the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved in earlier this month to make it easier to guide the use of indoor masks for fully vaccinated people, some blue states like Oregon and Washington still maintain if for a long time coronavirus restrictions.
After public pressure, Democratic Gov. Kate Brown last week lifted the requirement for outdoor masks and put the responsibility on companies to decide whether fully vaccinated patterns should be masked inside.
But the application of business capacity limits, advertising cases of sports students who passed while competing or practicing with a mask and a widespread closure of covered dining halls earlier this month continue to provoke resentment among those who consider the rules of Brown go too far as the rest of the US returns to normal.
In Oregon, the decline has been particularly strong in rural areas — which belongs to much of the state outside of Portland — and has included an effort by at least one county to become a “vaccine sanctuary” where the people should not mask themselves regardless of their vaccine status.
“We’re so done with this,” said Tootie Smith, chair of the Clackamas County Board of Supervisors and a former Republican representative in the Oregon State House. “There’s a huge frustration that people have.”
Smith made national news when he said on Twitter that he would host a big Thanksgiving dinner despite the capacity rules for indoor meetings that were there back then, and now he says he’s surprised when he travels outside of Oregon and sees such as living with fewer COVID-19 public restrictions.
Texas Rangers fans recently returned to Globe Life Field, which was open to 100% capacity, numerous college students crowded Florida beaches for spring break and Walt Disney World has reopened its doors.
“Everything was open. People were happy because they had the freedom to go out to restaurants (without a mask),” said Smith, who cited Florida, South Dakota and Idaho as examples. “Some of the businesses wanted you to wear a mask. And you could have been forced at certain points inside, but the attitude was different. You weren’t ashamed that you didn’t wear a mask.”
Those who support the more prudent approach in the Northwest, however, point out that the region has had lower infection rates throughout the pandemic, probably due to stricter rules over the past 14 months.
“The advantage of 50 different states is that you get a natural experience of what happens when states take a different approach,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, the health officer in Multnomah County, the most populous county in the world. state and location of Portland.
“I’ve seen some (states) have had several hikes or rejected certain restrictions. I think for the most part Oregon got it right,” Vines said. “While it may seem like there is no problem, it is these same restrictions that are preventing the problem.”
In Oregon and Washington, state health authorities have recently lifted requirements to wear masks outside, but they mostly maintain indoor capacity restrictions, probably until the end of June.
Most Oregon counties still have limits on business capacity, and as of this week, companies that want to allow customers to enter their stores without a mask must ask the customer to prove that it has been completely vaccinated. This week, state health officials said young athletes should no longer wear masks while competing outdoors, but students still need to mask while practicing indoor contact sports, such as basketball and wrestling.
And earlier this month, state workforce safety regulators indefinitely issued a rule that required employees to use masks at all times, regardless of their state of inoculation.
When the state increased the fourth rise in COVID-19 this month, Brown announced a reopening plan: restrictions on state capacity and masking will be removed when 70% of Oregon residents age 16 or older have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Currently, more than half of Oregon’s eligible population has received a first vaccine, and health officials say they believe the state will meet the governor’s vaccination goal by the end of June, although many counties are lagging behind.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee made a similar reopening announcement, saying his state is on track to reopen completely on June 30, and that it could reopen completely sooner even though 70% or more of residents 16 years of age or older have obtained at least one dose of vaccine by then.
It’s time to start “the next chapter of post-pandemic life,” Brown said, something Republicans have been calling for since last year, from the reopening of the economy and the complete lifting of mask mandates to to students returning to full-time face-to-face learning.
“What if we have another virus?” Smith said. “We can’t keep closing our society for months,”
But even once restrictions are removed in Oregon, not everyone can choose to return to a pre-coronavirus life.
“We all have types of risk tolerance,” Vines said. “I think for people who are really intolerant of risk they can choose to continue masking and I think that’s fine.”
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Citation: Oregon among blue states in removing COVID restrictions (2021, May 23) retrieved May 23, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-oregon-blue- states-covid-restrictions.html
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