As Holiday Reveling Begins, Oregon Governor Will Send Inspectors to Check for Masks

Eight rural counties are seeing staggering infections per capita. Gov. Kate Brown hasn't closed them yet.

As Oregon COVID cases continued to pour in at a rate well above 300 per day heading into the Independence Day weekend, Gov. Kate Brown pledged to send workplace safety and liquor inspectors into businesses to check if patrons are wearing masks.

The Oregon Health Authority announced another 344 people tested positive for the coronavirus yesterday, the second consecutive day cases rose above 300. But Brown did not close any counties, instead saying she would reevaluate the status of eight hard-hit rural counties after the weekend.

Those counties—Jefferson, Lake, Lincoln, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union and Wasco—are seeing staggering infections per capita. In Umatilla County, 1 in every 320 people have contracted a case of COVID that can't be traced to a known source.

Brown said she might rescind those counties' reopenings if the case counts don't slow over the weekend.

The governor also promised to send inspectors from Oregon Occupational Safety and Health—Oregon OSHA —and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to conduct "spot checks" whether businesses are making their customers wear masks. Brown said that businesses refusing to comply with masks rules could face immediate closure.

"I am asking Oregonians this holiday weekend to take urgent steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 by wearing face coverings, avoiding large gatherings, and physically distancing," Brown said. "And state enforcement agencies will be out in force to ensure businesses are in compliance. Those businesses not complying with gathering size limits, face covering requirements, physical distancing rules, and other standards face stiff penalties."

Multnomah County saw another 59 new cases today, close to its daily record and in keeping with recent upward trends.

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