OHA recommends masks indoors regardless of vaccination

By Nicole Elgin & Andrew Schpak
Barran Liebman Law

On July 27, 2021, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced that it is recommending universal mask use for all public indoor settings, including for fully vaccinated people.

OHA explained: “the use of face masks provides significant protection for individuals who are unvaccinated as well as an additional level [of] protection from a small but known risk of infection by the virus for persons who have already been vaccinated.”

This came on the heels of a similar announcement from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). While OHA’s announcement says that it aligns with the CDC, the two actually differ. While the CDC’s July 27, 2021, guidance applies only in counties of substantial or high transmission according to the CDC’s county tracker, OHA’s recommendation is state-wide, regardless of the county’s status.

For example, as of July 28, 2021, Multnomah County is classified at “moderate risk” under the CDC’s tracker, so it does not fall under the CDC’s new guidance. However, on July 26, 2021, Multnomah County Public Health issued a statement that “strongly recommended that everyone 5 and older (2 and older if tolerated) wear masks in all indoor public spaces, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.”
This is only a recommendation from OHA and not a mandate. Employers should continue to monitor local, state, and federal authorities as this guidance evolves and consider implementing these recommendations.

For questions on employer compliance in the pandemic, contact Barran Liebman attorneys Andrew Schpak at [email protected] or Nicole Elgin at [email protected]

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