Gov. Kate Brown Limits Indoor Gatherings to 10 People and Requires Oregonians to Wear Masks Outside

On a day when Oregon takes incremental steps, California suspends indoor service at bars and restaurants.

A masked skateboarder in the Pearl District in July 2020. (Brian Burk)

Gov. Kate Brown today announced incremental new measures aimed at slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Effective July 15, Brown is requiring Oregonians to wear masks outdoors when they cannot maintain 6 feet of distance from others, and she is restricting private indoor gatherings to no more than 10 people. (The new rules do not apply to businesses and churches.)

The move came on a day when the Oregon Health Authority announced 280 new cases of COVID-19—of which 82 are in Multnomah County—and three new deaths. Those figures bring the state's total cases to 12,438, with 237 deaths stemming from the pandemic.

The agency reported two new workplace outbreaks: 20 cases at Shearer's Foods in Umatilla County and 102 cases at the Snake River Correctional Institution in Malheur County.

In remarks to reporters this morning, Brown noted the recent upsurge in cases—the state recorded more new cases in the past week than in the month of May. Brown also noted that the virus is increasingly infecting younger Oregonians: One-third of those who have tested positive are under the age of 30.

Brown said she hopes the new measures will help stem the tide of infection so she doesn't need to impose stricter requirements.

"We need to do absolutely everything we can to reduce transmission in ways that do not require us to close down businesses again," she said. "The proof here will be in the numbers. Either people will adhere to this requirement and be a positive force for stopping COVID-19, or I will be forced to take more restrictive measures."

Meanwhile, in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom today ordered the closure of all indoor service at bars and restaurants, and closed movie theaters, museums and other indoor entertainment providers. Some hard-hit counties must also close churches, gyms, hair salons and malls.

Newsom's reversal comes a little more than a month after much of California began reopening, and shortly after a recent spike in infections that has brought the state's total to more than 326,000 cases and 7,000 deaths.

That's a significantly higher rate of infection and fatality than Oregon has experienced: California has a little more than nine times Oregon's population but 26 times as many cases and nearly 30 times as many COVID-19 deaths.

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