People are required to wear masks in Clatsop County starting Wednesday while in stores and other indoor public spaces to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Gov. Kate Brown on Friday afternoon approved the county Board of Commissioners' request to opt in to a mask requirement the governor imposed for seven Oregon counties.

Costco

Customers at stores in Clatsop County are required to wear masks starting Wednesday.

The requirement went into effect on Wednesday for Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Hood River, Lincoln, Marion and Polk counties.

Brown did not include counties with lower infection rates in her mandate, but gave counties the ability to opt in to the requirement. Clatsop County commissioners voted unanimously on Wednesday night to opt in.

With the Fourth of July weekend approaching, and coronavirus cases still rising across the state, Brown on Monday extended the mask requirement statewide.

“Modeling from the Oregon Health Authority shows that if we don’t take further action to reduce the spread of the disease, our hospitals could be overwhelmed by new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations within weeks," the governor said in a statement.

“The choices every single one of us make in the coming days matter.

“Face coverings that cover your nose and mouth play a critical role in reducing the spread of this disease because droplets from our breath can carry the virus to others without us realizing it."

Brown warned that government restrictions that have been lifted in many counties could return. “I do not want to have to close down businesses again like other states are now doing," she said. "If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face covering when out in public."

Becky Hultberg, the president and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, supported Brown's decision.

"With cases on the rise rapidly across the state, it is now more important than ever to take this step to protect our loved ones, our neighbors and our communities," she said in a statement. "Further, if we are to coexist alongside the disease, wide adoption of public face coverings is an essential factor in keeping our businesses and public spaces open."

Counties have been granted discretion by Brown in how to enforce the mask requirement.

Commissioner Kathleen Sullivan, the chairwoman of the Board of Commissioners, said wearing a mask in public is a small inconvenience that can help protect everyone.

"I take this pandemic very seriously and so I wear a mask because I want to protect the people around me," she said. "I don't want to be a part of the problem."

Sullivan said the county is continuing to work on the education piece of the mask requirement. She hopes wearing a mask in public can become part of people's everyday routine.

Warrenton Mayor Henry Balensifer said he is supportive of wearing masks in public, but was the only mayor to oppose the county opting in to the mask requirement.

In a Facebook live video Friday night, the mayor said he would have preferred the county maintain local sovereignty and create its own mask guidance.

He said he is also not in favor of creating a requirement that is not enforceable.

"I think it's important that if you're going to do something, you should be prepared to enforce it. And if you don't, then you should call it guidance, because that's really what it is," Balensifer said.

"It's important in my mind that if you have laws that there is something to undergird that. And if people have an expectation that they're not going to be required to do something that's in the law, that undermines the rule of law, in my opinion."

Nicole Bales is a reporter for The Astorian, covering police, courts and county government. Contact her at 971-704-1724 or nbales@dailyastorian.com.

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(7) comments

Barry Plotkin

It would be extremely helpful if the newspaper printed a full-text of the Governor's order, or, at least, a hypertext-link to it. For example, if I walk into Costco, I know exactly what to do: I put on my mask, wear it while shopping, and then take it off outside (fresh air being better than indoor air). However, suppose I walk into a bar, put on my mask, sit down, order a drink, and, then what? Do I take off my mask, take a sip, put on my mask, take it off, take another sip, .... Ditto when I go into a restaurant? I would like to see what the exact rules are. Of course it makes sense to mutually respect each other and reduce the risk of spreading or acquiring infection by wearing a mask when indoors, other than when at home or in one's personal vehicle. But life is way more complicated than that. I am curious how the Governor has mandated that we deal with this usual complexity, other than continuing full quarantine and lock-down.

Stop Crying

First of off how do you attend a party without knowing it is going to be a "Party" . I am so fed up with you 5 percent cry babies ruining it for the other 95. You have lived your life. Let us live our own. If you are at risk or have someone living with you that is than they have unemployment for you. Besides that tax dollars need to be collected and people need to live and this is coming from a person voting for Biden.

Miller Sands

"You have lived your life. Let us live our own."

You're an idiot. Its clowns like you who are dragging this thing out and keeping the country from recovering. The guidelines are to save you and the rest of us from getting sick and dying. Whatever your piddly little desires about "living your life" are nothing compared to the desires of others to live and let you live. Quit crying, you little tear stained snowflake or life will give you something to really cry about

Stop Crying

No it's crybabies like you why we even have to reopen. All you do is sit around calling and emailing politicians. While you sit home and collect a pension or social security. Just like the first poster said he went to a party around many and he is the one that has a problem. Everyone else was having fun. For most of us you either get no symptoms out a mild flu. The guidelines should be if you are at higher risk you might but do not have to stay home. Maybe you like your freedom taken away but don't touch mine. Life has given me many things to cry about. Did I? No. I got back up and made stuff happen. I will not waste anymore time replying to someone who just isn't in my universe. Have a great day, stay safe and maybe someday our views might align. If not, than that's ok also.

julie english

Lol looks like you are the crybaby...U cant stop crying about wear a dang mask lollllll dang look in the mirror......stop feeling sorry for yourself and grow up, and have some respect for others...that's what grown people do crybaby....smh

julie english

Thank you

Robert Potter

This can't happen soon enough. I attended a party at a local restaurant Saturday night and was appalled at the number of adults and children not wearing masks or observing social distancing. Sure, they all had brought their coverings, but after the festivities began it was "Jennie bar the door!". If what's happening in Florida, Texas, Arizona and other states who have allowed unfettered attendance to become the rule of the day and are now rethinking their idea of "freedom", then these people were seriously uninformed as to the ongoing reality of the pandemic. And I'm sure that my comment will aggravate those who believe on Wednesday what they believed on Monday regardless of what happened on Tuesday. It's here, and it will get worse if we don't take illness, and possible death, more seriously.

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